DSLRob 2014 - Workshop at SIMPAR 2014
October 20, Bergamo, Italy

After the overwhelming push towards the design of robotics software platforms (e.g. ROS, Orocos, SmartSoft, OpenRTM, etc.) we now need to make robotics programming and configuration as accessible as possible to application domain experts. Domain-Specific Languages (DSLs) and Model-driven Engineering (MDE) are emerging areas of interest in the robotics research community, which have been instrumental for resolving complex issues in a wide range of domains (e.g. distributed and modular robotics, control, and vision) and have the potential for significantly facilitating how robots are programmed. 

 A domain-specific language (DSL) is a programming language dedicated to a particular problem domain that offers specific notations and abstractions, which, at the same time, decrease the coding complexity and increase programmer productivity within that domain. Models offer a high-level way for domain users to specify the functionality of their system at the right level of abstraction. DSLs and models have historically been used for programming complex systems. They have however recently garnered interest as a separate field of study; this workshop investigates DSLs and models for robotics. 

Robotic systems blend hardware and software in a holistic way that intrinsically raises many crosscutting concerns (concurrency, uncertainty, time constraints, etc.), for which reason, traditional general-purpose languages often lead to a poor fit between the language features and the implementation requirements. DSLs and models offer a powerful, systematic way to overcome this problem providing two main strengths: 

  • Domain experts, who are not familiar with general purpose programming languages, can adopt DSLs to quickly and precisely implement novel software solutions to complex problems within the robotics domain. 
  • Software engineers can design complex architectures and provide domain experts with models and tools that hide the architecture complexity and facilitate their configuration. 

DSLs and models are key elements in many robotic systems presented at leading conferences such as IROS, ICRA and SIMPAR, but the domain-centric structure of the typical robotics conference and the limited amount of time assigned to paper presentations do not provide enough room for discussion. This workshop aims to establish a regular event, where robotic researchers meet to present and discuss how DSLs and models can improve the design, development and configuration of robotics software.