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COVID-19: Remote teaching of ROS pratical labs with actual robots

Hello :wave:

With the COVID-19 crisis and the country lockdown situations encountered by teachers, their must double their imagination to maintain their courses and teach remotely while their students stay safe at home.

The teaching of practical robotic labs, can rely on simulators (including online simulators) to occur remotely, with a good balance between pedagogical quality and feasability.

However, I keep believing that even in a lockdown situation, their is still a profit to teach prtactical labs with real robots, that would manipulate real objects (which is especially important for grasping tasks since simulators are bad at it), that would be showcased to the entire classroom. Thus I’m thinking to how remote ROS labs could be offered to college students to replace labs with actual robots and environements of real objects.

Imagine you want to give your students a remote control over an AGV or a robotics arm while only the teacher can access the lab:

  • What kind of API should be exposed to the Internet? ROS topics and services (as they would access in regular labs), or limited REST or websocket APIs?
  • How do you design the sofware architecture so that you maximy software security? Apart from regular authentication and traffic encryption
  • What if the university firewalls prevent direct access to the robotic platform? Should an external server synchronise commands from students and the control over the platform?
  • What ROS1/ROS2/non-ROS tools and libraries could give a hand?
  • Do some of you already practice this kind of teaching?

Stay safe, cheers :robot:

3 Likes

Just saw this: https://twitter.com/rejearch/status/1256297027610259457/photo/1
They run robots through a VPN.

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I use TeamViewer to allow external connections. It’s not ideal, but it’s easy to setup.

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Do you also setup a camera so that they can see the robot?

My students work with planning/navigation for mobile robots so they basically need an embedded camera and RViz.

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I created a video showing how you can provide remote access to your lab robots to all your students and researchers: https://youtu.be/fzogfWRamDI

It requires a minimum setup on the side of the lab robots and no setup at all on the side of the students/remote people.

Let me know your thoughts, comments, questions…

2 Likes

Thank you @ricardotellez, that’s interesting :+1:

We made an experience of remote ROS labs by sending parcels with Turtlebot and Poppy robots to learners at home. That went very well and creates an interesting variety of environments!

Now let’s organize remote labs with industrial robots :slight_smile: