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ROS Native Networks

Native Network is a beta feature.

A native network allows you to communicate between different ROS environments as described in the following scenarios.

  • ROS environments that are deployed in the cloud.
  • ROS environments that are deployed in the device within the same local area network.

Native networks eliminate the need of creating a separate routed network for the local communication and significantly decreases the latency as the communication doesn’t involve a cloud bridge for individual ROS environments for communication.

In case of native network, multiple ROS environments (all ros nodes sharing the same ROS_MASTER_URI are considered a single ROS environment) can discover each other (these could be filtered based on the list of topics/services provided) and the communication happens in a peer-to-peer manner. Each ROS environment has its own ROS master and the rapyuta.io platform uses a sub-component based on the open-source FKIE multimaster to achieve it.

Native Networks Internals

  • Communication happens in a peer-peer manner, which means different ROS masters or environments are connected via platform using a sub-component based on FKIE multi master nodes (master-discovery and master-sync). These two nodes are responsible for exchanging information about the ROS-graph which is used to establish the communication between nodes associated to each of the “ROS masters” that are connected to the same native network.
  • Native network does NOT share the parameters between different “ROS environments” (All nodes connected to a single ROSMaster URI comprise of a ROS Environment )
  • The platform only whitelists the topics/service mentioned in the package component, and the platform doesn’t interpret or listen to the data flowing between them unlike in case of a routed network thus reducing the latency. It only shares publisher/service information on the network.
  • Scoped or targeted topics (service or action) are the functionalities of a routed network. In the case of a native network, topics are whitelisted in the form of /*/topics and you can use remap or add namespaces to these topics for communication. For more information on remapping, click here.
  • While deploying a package, you can mention ROS Environment Alias and ROS Namespace in case of native network. You can click the ROS Namespace check box and the platform automatically sets the value of ROS_NAMESPACE environment variable same as the ROS environment alias to help you in doing namespacing.

for tf topic: if you don’t add tf_prefix, don’t expose the topic as there is a possibility of mixing of tf.

Compression, QOS, and Service Timeout are not applicable in the case of native networks.

Use Case

For the use case, let’s take an example of 3 ROS packages:

  • package_A, package_B, and package_C are deployed in the cloud.

We want to establish communication between these 3 ROS packages. To simplify this communication, you can use a native network that serves as the best medium for communication.

  • Deploy package_A binding to the native network, native_network_1, as deployment_A.
  • Deploy package_B binding to the native network, native_network_1, as deployment_B.
  • Deploy package_C binding to the native network, native_network_1, as deployment_C.

The result is as follows

  • We have established communication between the packages deployed in the cloud (as they are in the same local area network)

We can establish this communication by using a cloud routed network. However, using a routed network involves cloud bridge for each ROS environment that adds latency when service/action/topics are being called in the same local area network.

Pros

  • Communication through a native network is happening in a peer-to-peer manner that means the subscriber directly makes a connection with the publisher thereby eliminating the latency in each hop-on of messages as in the case of a routed network via cloud bridge. This results in low-latency communication.

  • You can see the list of publishers whitelisted in your package components in your rostopic list command.

  • Native network is very similar to the local single ROS master environment.

Cons

  • The native network is only applicable only for local communication - i.e within the cloud or within a LAN network of a deployment site (eg warehouse).

When you subscribe to a topic from a different ROS environment, this subscriber information is kept locally and only shared if a topic is whitelisted in a package component.

Cloud Native Network

When you deploy a native network to the cloud, it is considered as a cloud native network. Any compute resources (CPU/memory) consumed by this native network deployment count against your cloud deployment hours quota.

Resource Limit

When creating a cloud native network, the Resource limit field defines the memory allocation and computational capability of the native network. These resources are reserved in the platform for effective ROS communication. You can choose the resource limit of a native network based on the following requirements.

  • number of topics/services/actions
  • number of publishers/subscribers/services that will be activated under a particular native network.

You can connect your deployments to more than one cloud native networks for redundancy.

Device Native Network

When you deploy a native network to a device, it is considered as a device native network. This allows for ultra low latency peer-to-peer connections between ros nodes in a Local Area Network(LAN) i.e ONLY deployments on devices on the same LAN can bind to it.

Native networks can be deployed to devices that fulfill the following requirements:

  • Any online device with docker runtime and AMD64 architecture
  • The network_interface configuration variable must be set to a valid network interface name eg enp1s0 that will be used by other deployments for communication to this native network.
  • Restart policy: Kindly refer to the restart policy.

To use device native networks the user needs to re-onboard the device (to install and enable the new services). Also ensure that cpuset and memory cgroups are enabled.

If the user re-onboards the device the user needs to go and reset the network_interface config variable.

For instance use native networks with a Raspberry-Pi consider adding the following in /boot/cmdline.txt. cgroup_enable=cpuset cgroup_enable=memory cgroup_memory=1

On reboot, devices configured using DHCP may boot up with a new IP address and the network configuration of a deployed native network becomes invalid. This can be avoided by assigning a static IP to the device you intend to deploy a native network to esp in production systems.