Because very few companies standardize with one hardware or software supplier throughout their business, the ability to
connect hardware and software packages from different suppliers is essential.
However, that didn't stop many hardware and software suppliers from trying to
own their niche of the playing field. But the realities of marketplace demand
have been leading a shift toward more open and easily integrated products for
years now. It happened with enterprise software nearly a decade ago, and now
the spirit of openness is starting to be felt more widely at the device and device
At Hannover Fair 2011, Sercos International
announced that it is making the Sercos/IP protocol driver library for the Sercos
automation bus available as open source software. The driver software is
available for download in C# source code via http://sourceforge.net. There are no license fees
or usage limitations associated with the Sercos open source code.
The protocol is designed to allow direct communication and data exchange
between devices without requiring a Sercos master or the use of existing Sercos
One of the primary uses of the Sercos protocol has
been for real-time control applications. Sercos International maintains that the
open source Sercos/IP protocol can still be used in cyclic real time operation.
The association notes that, despite having the Sercos/IP telegrams transferred
into the Sercos NRT (Non Real-Time) channel in real-time applications, there is
reportedly no negative influence on the real time behavior of the network.
The open source Sercos/IP also maintains that set-up, remote maintenance and
diagnosis of Sercos device capabilities can be carried out over an intranet or
In related open communication news, Sercos
International also announced at Hannover Fair that it is strengthening its cooperation
with ODVA by becoming an active partner organization within the new ODVA
machine initiative. A principal objective of this connection between the groups
is the expansion of CIP Safety, which is currently used as a bus-independent
safety protocol for DeviceNet, EtherNet/IP and Sercos.
"CIP Safety on Sercos is an excellent example of how technologies from
different organizations can successfully complement each other -- to benefit
manufacturers as well as users," said Peter Lutz, managing director of Sercos International.
Two different shape-shifting polymers have been announced from two different universities: Wyss Institute at Harvard University and Zhejiang University in eastern China. Both of them change their shapes when immersed in water, and the one from Wyss Institute was made with 3D-printing techniques.
When you think of the DARPA Robotics Challenge, you may imagine complex humanoid contraptions made of metal and wires that move like a Terminator Series T-90. But what actually happened at the much-vaunted event was something just a bit different.
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