Robotics Language Tutorial



The Robotics Language (RoL) is an open extensible domain-specific (or model-based) language for robotics. RoL is an abstraction on top of ROS to efficiently and quickly develop ROS applications using a mathematics-centred language. RoL generates ROS c++ nodes, HTML interfaces, or any other elements. The base RoL language has a structure similar to standard high-level programming languages.

Domain Specific Languages are computer languages specialised to a particular application domain. Such languages use the minimum information required to describe a particular concept for a domain, thus present an abstraction of information.

# A simple topic echo node
name:'example echo',

definitions: block(
  # the input signal
  echo_in ∈ Signals(Strings, rosTopic:'/echo/in', onNew: echo_out = echo_in ),

  # the echo signal
  echo_out ∈ Signals(Strings, rosTopic:'/echo/out')

In addition RoL has the ability to integrate abstraction languages that simplify the way code is written. This results in a “vertical” abstraction approach for development (using many languages), as opposed to the classical “horizontal” abstraction approach used in most projects (abstraction by creating libraries using the same language).

Abstraction languages are programming languages with the purpose of simplifying concepts. Abstraction languages compile into standard programming languages.

# A finite state machine
  name:'example state machine',

  definitions: block(

    # an abstraction language: code is defined within `<{ }>`




    # the start signal
    start ∈ Signals(Empty, rosTopic:'/start', onNew:'start')),

    # the stop signal
    stop ∈ Signals(Empty, rosTopic:'/stop', onNew:'stop'))


ROL generates code to different versions of ROS

Original ROL code

echo_in ∈ Signals(Strings, rosTopic:'/echo/in'),

Generated ROS1 c++ code
/* header file definitions */
ros::Subscriber echo_in_subscriber;
void signal_echo_in_callback(const std_msgs::String& signal_echo_in_message);
std_msgs::String echo_in;


/* initialisation */
echo_in_subscriber = nh_.subscribe("/echo/in", 10,
    &ExampleEchoClass::signal_echo_in_callback, this);


/* callback function implementation */
void ExampleEchoClass::signal_echo_in_callback(const std_msgs::String& signal_echo_in_message)
Generated ROS2 c++ code
/* header file definitions */
rclcpp::Subscription::SharedPtr echo_in_subscriber;
void signal_echo_in_callback(const std_msgs::msg::String::SharedPtr message);
std_msgs::msg::String echo_in;


/* initialisation */
echo_in_subscriber = this->create_subscription(
    "/echo/in", std::bind(&ExampleEchoClass::signal_echo_in_callback, this, _1));


/* callback function implementation */
void ExampleEchoClass::signal_echo_in_callback(const std_msgs::msg::String::SharedPtr message)

Automatically generated graphical user interfaces in the browser allow for development and monitoring.

RoL contains high-level language element abstractions that are very useful for robotics, such as Interval Temporal Logic for signals.

  name:'temporal logic test example',

  definitions: block(

    # a signal
    x ∈ Signals(Booleans, rosTopic:'/temporal_logic/x'),

      print('always in the last second')),

      print('eventually from 4 seconds to 1 second ago')),

    when(□[5,0](◇[1,0](x) ∧ ◇[1,0](¬x)),
      print('oscillating faster then 1Hz for at least 5 seconds'))


Generated GUIs visualise the signals in time and the outcome of the logic.

In this tutorial we go over using the RoL language, its tools, abstraction languages, and creating new language elements and plugins.


Dr. Gabriel A.D. Lopes is a robotics and control scientist at RRC Robotics, Netherlands. He received a “Licenciatura” degree in Aerospace Engineering at the Instituto Superior Tecnico, Universidade Tecnica de Lisboa, Portugal and MSc and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan. In 2007, he was a visiting scholar at the Grasp lab, University of Pennsylvania, USA. From 2009 to 2016, Dr. Lopes was an Assistant Professor at the Delft Center for Systems and Control, Delft University of Technology, NL. His interests include robotics, dynamical systems, nonlinear control, machine learning, software architectures, and many other topics.

Dr. Carlos Hernández Corbato is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Cognitive Robotics, Delft University of Technology, in the Robot Dynamics Group. He graduated with honors in Industrial Engineering (2006) and received his M.Sc. Ph.D in Automation and Robotics from the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid in 2013. Carlos is currently the coordinator of the ROSIN European project granted in the H2020 program. He has participated in other national and European projects in the topics of cognitive robotics and factories of the future. His research interests include cognitive architectures, autonomy and model-based engineering. He also (jointly) lead Team Delft, that won the Amazon Robotics Challenge 2016.

Msc. Dimitrios Chronopoulos is an Embedded Systems Engineer (Master of Science, TUDelft). Software Team Leader in RRC Robotics currently in charge of the Autonomous Navigation, Mapping and Localization System and the High-Level Behaviour of the LEA robot (powered by an early version of the Robotics Language). Has additional experience in Embedded Software, Networking and Electrical Engineering.

Ir. Floris Gaisser is a senior engineer and co-founder of RRC Robotics. He is currently a leader in the WEPods project: self-driving public buses. He has a Bsc. in Industrial Design Engineering, and a Msc. in Mechanical Engineering in the field of Biomechanical Design with specialisations in Biorobotics and Intelligent Mechanical Systems, all at the Delft University of Technology, NL. His interests include robotics, self-driving cars, machine learning.


Part I, The philosophy of the Robotics Language and the compiler (30min)


ROS and ROSin

The language of robotics

Compiler architecture

Part II, Using the Robotics Language (1 hour)

Types, variables, functions

Abstraction languages

Event-based vs synchronous execution

Special constructs

Extending the language

Part III, Tools (3 hour)

Temporal Logic (30 min)

Finite State Machines (30 min)

Deep learning (1 hour)

External lecturer TBA, 1 hour

Part IV, Developing abstraction languages (1.5 hour)

A Parser for a finite state machine abstraction language

Transformer and code generation

HTML interactive GUI

Case studies

Lea is an assistive walker. It supports people with challenges in mobility. It is a full autonomous robot: it can navigate in user's homes or hospitals. Lea’s supervisory engine is running ROL. Four different abstraction languages were used in the development of Lea.

WePods is a self-driving mini-bus. The upcoming decision-tree engine of WePods is designed using ROL.


Ros-Industrial consortium:

ROSIN EU project:

Robot care systems:


rosin_logo Supported by ROSIN - ROS-Industrial Quality-Assured Robot Software Components. More information: eu_flag This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 732287.