Universitšt Bielefeld - Technische Fakultšt - Neuroinformatik
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Introduction

The experience of building and operating robot-vision labs [5, 10, 12] shows, that a substantial amount of effort easily dissipates in adaption of software components to application specific needs. A lot of interesting ideas and application code is developed, but too often those remain as ``one-of-a-kind'' pieces. Descriptions like short life-time, little use and re-use, little contribution to later projects and other peoples similar problems, are not exceptional for (too) many valuable, fine components.

Why are many software as well as expensive hardware components not better re-used and not better shared among working teams? We emphasis the term ``communication cost'' as a very useful view point and discuss in the Sec.2 the economy of re-use. We are not going to speculate about monetary figures on the over-all economic potential of making components better re-usable (they are large) - instead we investigate this question starting with the component, its users and its maker.

In Sec.3 we discuss ingredients for a software framework, which forms a suitable, standardized form for developing more sustainable components, which achieve easier re-usability, and give the basis for incremental work. Sec.4 presents some essential ideas of ``SORMA''. Sec.5 reports on the experiences we made with this software framework within the context of a university robotics laboratory.



Joerg Walter
1997-Dec-04