What is Aseba?

Aseba is a set of tools which allow novices to program robots easily and efficiently. For these reasons, Aseba is well-suited for robotic education [4] and research [1, 5, 2]. Aseba is open-source (GNU Lesser General Public License), you can freely download it and play with it.

Technically, Aseba is an event-based architecture for real-time distributed control of mobile robots. It targets integrated multi-processor robots or groups of single-processor units, real or simulated. The core of aseba is a lightweight virtual machine tiny enough to run even on microcontrollers. With aseba, we program robots in a user-friendly programming language using a cosy integrated development environment. Aseba applies to several contexts:

  • In multi-microcontrollers robots, Aseba takes advantage of the computational power of peripheral microcontrollers to provide hardware modularity, low latency between perception and action, and economical use of the bandwidth of the robot bus. Moreover, its easy to understand programming language allows fast development of robots' behaviours [1, 2].
  • In education, the easy-to-learn language of Aseba, its user-friendly development environment, and the joy of making a robot move provide an original approach to teach and learn programming [3, 4].
  • In collective robotics, Aseba streamlines the development process by allowing instantaneous changes of the robots code as well as parallel debugging of all robots [5].

Aseba integrates with D-Bus [6] and ROS, allowing access to microcontrollers from high-level languages.

History

Stéphane Magnenat started developing Aseba as part of his PhD work in the Mobots research group at EPFL. Currently, a community comprising members of the Mobots group, of the mobsya association, of the ASL at ETH Zürich and other individuals maintain and further develop Aseba.

Bibliography
1. ASEBA: A Modular Architecture for Event-Based Control of Complex Robots. Stéphane Magnenat, Philippe Rétornaz, Michael Bonani, Valentin Longchamp, and Francesco Mondada. In IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, vol. 16, issue 2, pages 321–329, DOI: 10.1109/TMECH.2010.2042722, April, 2011.
2. The Hand-bot, a Robot Design for Simultaneous Climbing and Manipulation. Michael Bonani, Stéphane Magnenat, Philippe Rétornaz, Francesco Mondada. In Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Intelligent Robotics and Applications (ICIRA), pages 11–22, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-10817-4_2, Singapore, December 16–18, 2009.
3. A Programming Workshop using the Robot "Thymio II": The Effect on the Understanding by Children. Stéphane Magnenat, Fanny Riedo, Michael Bonani, and Francesco Mondada. In IEEE International Workshop on Advanced Robotics and its Social Impacts, Munich, Germany, May 21–23, 2012.
4. Aseba-Challenge: An Open-Source Multiplayer Introduction to Mobile Robots Programming. Stéphane Magnenat, Basilio Noris, and Francesco Mondada. In Second International Conference on Fun and Games, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pages 65–74, Springer Verlag, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-88322-7, 2008.
5. Scripting the swarm: event-based control of microcontroller-based robots. Stéphane Magnenat, Philippe Rétornaz, Basilio Noris, and Francesco Mondada. In International Conference on Simulation, Modeling, and Programming for Autonomous Robots (SIMPAR), Workshop Proceedings, ISBN: 978-88-95872-01-8, 2008.
6. Aseba Meets D-Bus: From the Depths of a Low-Level Event-Based Architecture into the Middleware Realm. Stéphane Magnenat and Francesco Mondada. In IEEE TC-Soft Workshop on Event-based Systems in Robotics (EBS-RO), St. Louis, MO, USA, October 15, 2009.
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