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Can you control HEBI Actuators using a PLC?

Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2020 12:33 pm
by hebi_newbie
Has anyone connected to HEBI Equipment with a PLC before?

Re: Can you control HEBI Actuators using a PLC?

Posted: Tue Apr 28, 2020 10:19 pm
by dave_rollinson
Sorry for the delay.

HEBI modules are controlled over a custom communications protocol. This makes direct control of HEBI actuators by a PLC unfeasible, so in general the strategy is to use a Single Board Computer (e.g. a Raspberry Pi) to bridge between an industrial protocol and the HEBI actuators. Depending on the PLC in question, integration may involve custom development to connect our HEBI C++ APIs and the PLC compatible protocol.

However, we currently provide ROS nodes for controlling many of our kits, as well as generic collections of modules. The ROS Industrial project has many tools for connecting ROS networks with industrial protocols, so it may be possible to combine these tools and the HEBI ROS nodes to interface with a PLC. This is probably dependent on the controller and protocol in question, but seems to be usable for a variety of industrial equipment. This also allows for higher-level control of the system through other standards, such as PackML.

While it is possible to send angle or torque commands to each module individually, the HEBI APIs offer group/robot level controls that coordinate multiple actuators. We think this provides a significant advantage compared to directly controlling each actuator, so at this time we are not planning to modify the actuator-level control messages to be compatible with any industrial communication standards.