Accessing CAN Bus Information Via Formant

Communication is one of the most important aspects of helping a robot function properly. If one part of the device cannot communicate with the other, tasks and missions can’t be reliably carried out. But sometimes the higher-level information passed between nodes isn't granular enough to investigate the root cause of an issue.

As a data platform, we’re always focused on helping our customers access the data they need, down to the smallest point. With our new CAN Bus adapter, Formant is now able to help robot operators and developers pull the raw data they need from any type of robot. 


What does a CAN Bus help robot operators achieve, and why is it there?

CAN has been utilized as a messaging protocol in robotics for some time before the modern ROS robots of today. 

CAN has typically been used in industrial robots, cars, and planes to help each part of the system communicate with one another without need for a central computer. CAN is especially advantageous in robotics as alterations to the system are simple to complete, and offers great reliability via error detection and control. 


What does this mean for Formant users? 

The CAN Bus adapter in deployed as part of our agent and is set up to read and send CAN messages then feed them into Formant. As this data is ingested into our platform, users can view the raw data points via a CAN dashboard. This raw data is valuable for a couple of reasons: 

  1. As all of the data feeding from the CAN adapter is raw, developers are instantly given deeper visibility in debugging than they otherwise would have without a simple interface to incept this CAN data. 
  2. The dashboard also allows the operator to see the information coming in and out of the CAN adapter, providing deeper insight as to how well parts of the robot are communicating with one another. 

By being able to have an adapter, we can bring trusted comms protocols that exist in earlier robots and put our modern cloud-based interface on top of it. 

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