The thrust of Intel's robotics effort is to reduce the cost and engineering required to build small, powerful, sophisticated robots. This thrust, however, requires standards and protocols. Right now, robotics standards and protocols are in their infancy. With technology convergence becoming increasingly important in Intel's areas of interest, Intel is leading industry efforts for the Robotics Engineering Task Force (RETF).
The RETF is modeled after the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). RETF allows government and university researchers to work together to establish standard software protocols and interfaces for robotics systems. Currently, government representatives include researchers from NASA, DARPA, and NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). All told, approximately 35 government and university researchers are already participating in the RETF.
The most pressing issue for the RETF is devising standards for commanding and controlling the mobile robots. The task force has already defined a charter to develop standards for robotics systems. A working draft of the first framework document is now being reviewed for comments.
The task force has also begun work on standards for bridging networks, on protocols, and on application programming interfaces (APIs). Current issues being discussed include intellectual property rights and copyright. The task force hopes to begin work on full specifications as soon as the framework document is approved. The task force expects to publish its work as open-source code when the work is complete, something it hopes to finish in about two years.