Once Dr. Behal outlined his predicament to a visiting Quanser Academic Solutions Advisor, the answer emerged. The Quanser Advisor suggested that the key to making two incompatible languages “talk” to one another lies within using QUARC® control design software, which offers a rapid control development and deployment environment, and specifically, QUARC’s Stream API.
QUARC has the communications blocksets and the capability to speak both languages and make them work as one. As a result, the robot’s vision-based controller was programmed to identify objects and pick them up easily and quickly.
This ability to share memory and bridge the two languages basically allowed research assistant Wang to quickly take the simulation they were running in Matlab and join it with the program they had running in C/C++ outside of Matlab. Then, just by dragging and dropping Stream API blocks into the Simulink model and one click, they were able to actually get these programs to talk.
“By understanding two different programming languages, QUARC helped us to prototype the system and produced a working simulation very, very quickly,” says research assistant Wang. “In one week I installed QUARC, took the interactive tutorial available online from Quanser and used QUARC successfully to do rapid prototyping of the experiment. It just worked as we intended it to. We did high-level programming of the robot’s vision-based controller very quickly and accurately.” Because the experimental results exactly matched what research associate Wang saw in the simulation, he was able to actually drop the simulated robot and use the experimental robot in no time.
Since QUARC was introduced into this project three years after it started, some of the programming, however laborious, was already done. Once QUARC was brought into the project, programming was simple and the vision-based control became robust. “If we had been aware of QUARC when we began this assistive robotic project, it would have sped up this project a great deal. We could have saved two years!”