Industrial Automation Monthly.

SwRI Debuts Workbench Toolkit for Offline Robotics R&D

Robots and Cobots Software and Design Tools

SwRI (Southwest Research Institute has recently introduced the SwRI Workbench for Offline Robotics Development™ (SWORD™), a new toolkit designed to simplify robotics programming by integrating computer-aided design (CAD) into robotics motion planning, modeling, and execution.

SwRI Debuts Workbench Toolkit for Offline Robotics Development, SWORD. Photo appearing in an article on Industrial Automation Monthly.
The SwRI Workbench for Offline Robotics Development™ (SWORD™) software, designed for manufacturing engineers and robotics developers, is a user-friendly ROS programming graphical toolkit that integrates CAD features. Photo Courtesy of SwRI.

Making its debut at this year’s Automate 2024,  SWORD features an intuitive graphical interface that makes the fundamental coding requirements of robot operating system (ROS) application development more user-friendly and accessible.

Leveraging SwRI’s expertise in supporting the ROS-industrial community, SWORD enables manufacturing engineers to use their CAD knowledge to unlock advanced capabilities within the ROS codebase. SwRI manages the ROS-Industrial Americas Consortium and supports ROS-I software repositories, providing training and hosting developer events.

“The traditional ROS workflow is programming-intensive, requiring developers to be familiar with available ROS libraries and tools. Even experienced ROS developers can spend significant time on initial setup and configuration,” said Matt Robinson, a SwRI engineer managing the ROS-Industrial Americas Consortium. “We developed SWORD to provide easier access to ROS motion-planning tools, using a CAD-based environment familiar to non-developers.”

SWORD includes a graphical toolkit for setting up motion-planning environments and collision geometries. It can also test advanced robotic motion-planning applications. It offers a user-friendly interface to powerful motion-planning libraries, making ROS more accessible to manufacturing and industrial audiences.

“SWORD is designed for both robotics developers and manufacturing engineers familiar with CAD processes and programs on process-oriented systems,” said Jeremy Zoss, a SwRI engineer who contributed to developing the software. “SWORD brings advanced motion-planning capability to this audience, allowing them to utilize these tools in their operational environments.”

Key features of SWORD include the ability to create or import CAD models of robots, including fixtures and end-of-arm tooling, and manipulate and control the robot model using joint sliders. Users can simulate tool movement with an intuitive dragger to evaluate and calculate joint configurations. The software also enables the generation of motion plans using commercial path planners, allowing for the creation of custom pipelines for application-specific behavior while predicting and avoiding collisions. Additionally, SWORD provides a custom planning pipeline to define robot motion using coordinate-based or joint waypoints, specifying different movement segment types and motion groups and inserting supplementary commands.

SWORD is now available, with seats open for purchase. A trial version is also available upon request. For more information, please click here.

Editor’s Note: SWORD is a trademark of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI).