Dasher! – A Racing Robot in Ada

Mälardalen University (Västerås, Sweden)

Under the direction of Professor Lars Asplund, graduate students at Mälardalen University are designing, building and programming the Dasher robot in a project that is pushing the limits of robotics technology. The software is being developed with AdaCore’s GNAT toolset, furnished to the university under the GNAT Academic Program (GAP), on Wind River Systems’ VxWorks real-time operating system.

The Dasher project’s goal is to develop a humanoid (two-legged) robot that can run 100 meters in 9.5 seconds, which would break the human record. Among the many challenges are how to model the physics of sprinting, and how to manage the tradeoff between speed and stability so that the robot does not topple over or move into the lanes of other runners. Since safety is an important factor for robotics, Ada was selected as the implementation language, with concurrency usage adhering to the Ravenscar tasking profile. The project has adopted the Uppaal tool environment for modeling, validating and verifying the robotics software’s real-time properties.

“We are very pleased with the progress on Dasher,” said Professor Asplund. “Thanks to both the Ada language and the GNAT environment, the students have been highly productive and have learned a great deal about robotics, team software projects, and safety-critical system development. That was our goal, and we plan to continue with Ada and the GNAT tools on future projects.”

For more information on Dasher, please see: http://www.idt.mdh.se/rc/page_id1/dasher.

Mälardalen University