Robot Construction Kit

Rock is a software framework for the development of robotic systems. The underlying component model is based on the Orocos RTT (Real Time Toolkit). Rock provides all the tools required to set up and run high-performance and reliable robotic systems for wide variety of applications in research and industry. It contains a rich collection of ready to use drivers and modules for use in your own system, and can easily be extended by adding new components.
Keywords: Robots, Framework, Components, Modular, Drivers, Real-time
Status: active
Operating system: Linux
Programming languages: C++, Ruby
Licence: LGPL
Ownership: Since Rock contains a wide collection of tools, there is no single license that applies to all components. Instead each component defines is own license. Mainly LGPL, MIT and New BSD License are in use.

Software description

Rock-display provides an overview of running tasks, and allows to look into the status of the modules and preview life data. (Source: Malte Wirkus, DFKI GmbH)

The framework was developed to specifically address the following issues in existing solutions:

Sustainable systems: The architecture and the tools in Rock are designed with long-living systems in mind. In practice, it means that for us, error detection, reporting and handling is key in any robotic architecture.

Scalability: Provide the tools to be able to manage big systems with a minimum fuss. But we don’t require you to learn about these (complex) tools right away: as soon as you use rock’s component development tool, oroGen, you have the guarantee that your components can be integrated from simple scenarios using hardcoded C++ behaviors, to Ruby scripts up to the complete system monitoring tools.

Reusable codebase: Even though we think that the rock toolchain is one of the best out there, some other people might feel differently. And they might be right. That’s why, in rock, most of the functionality – from control to data display through data processing – is implemented in a way that is totally independent from rock’s integration framework. That’s right: just pick our drivers, localization algorithms and control loops and integrate them in your integration framework. You don’t have to do anything on our side, as the code is completely independent from the integration parts.

Rock is used as the software framework for most of the robots at the DFKI and is increasingly adopted in other environments. It is continuously updated to improve reliability and include new features.


Application Field: Space Robotics
Underwater Robotics
Agricultural Robotics
Assistance- and Rehabilitation Systems
Electric Mobility
Logistics, Production and Consumer
SAR- & Security Robotics
Related Projects: D-Rock
Models, methods and tools for the model based software development of robots (06.2015- 05.2018)
Hybrid and intelligent human-robot collaboration – Hybrid teams in versatile cyber-physical production environments (11.2016- 10.2019)
Intelligent Human-Robot Collaboration (03.2015- 06.2016)
Technologies and Human-Robot Collaboration for Surface EVA Exploration Activities and Training in European Analogue Environments (09.2013- 08.2016)
Planetary RObots Deployed for Assembly and Construction Tasks (02.2019- 04.2021)
AI-based Qualification of Deliberative Behaviour for a Robotic Construction Kit (08.2018- 07.2021)
Robot systems for decontamination in hostile environments (06.2018- 06.2022)
Space Automation & Robotics General Controller (01.2016- 12.2017)
Related Robots: ARTER
Autonomous Rough Terrain Excavator Robot
iMRK Dual-Arm Robot (Photo: Annemarie Popp, DFKI GmbH)
Subsea-resident AUV
YEMO 1.1
Semi Autonomous Micro Rover for Underwater Applications
Mobile Dual-Arm-Manipulation
Advanced Security Guard V3
Autonomous Surface Vehicle
Autonomous Vehicle for Aquatic Learning, Operation and Navigation
Compliant Robot Arm
Coyote II
High Mobile Micro Rover
EO smart connecting car
EO smart connecting car further development in subprojekt ITEM
Schilling Orion 7P
Expandable Rover for Planetary Applications
Sponsor: Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology
Federal Ministry of Education and Research

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last updated 16.11.2023