State of art

In the last decades robots applications vastly diffused in industrial manufacturing. This was paralleled by an increased demand for versatility, robustness and precision to their applications. The demand was satisfied by the robot design most of all by acting on the mechanical part of the design.
So, to meet the micrometric positioning requirements, stiffness of the robotís arms was in-creased, high precision gears and law backlash joints introduced and so on, often leading to difficult design compromises (such as the request to reduce inertia and increase stiffness). All this led to an increase in costs of robots and to be close to saturation for further improvement potentialities.
The control system technology have of course contributed to the robot development, but to a lesser extent than the mechanical one and certainly not to the maximum of the potential capability for advanced, intelligent, reconfigurable, real time, embedded control systems.
The recent state of the art indicates already some interesting attempts to change the situations.
In the last years some efforts in the development of an Open Software Architecture have been made, as testified by some European R&D projects, such as: ORCA (Open Robot Controller Architecture); M3S (CAN protocol for communication over a bus); RTFCANOPEN TEKNIKER (architecture integrating RT Framework and simulation tools for continuous control); OSACA (hw independent reference architecture for controls in automation systems).
Several recent European National projects initiative also focus on advanced robotic systems such as MORPHA (Germany) (it considers cooperative human-robot systems and advanced communication technology) and ROBEA (France) (it covers modelling and interaction with environment, visual servoing, active perception, on-line decision-making, etc.).
Several European network activities, such as EURON, or national (e.g. Robo Cluster Denmark) integrate numerous SMEs, large companies, educational and research institutes in the field of robotics covering wide research and application fields.
In the research community, the visual servoing paradigm was given much attention from the main journals in vision and robotics in the past few years, with the publication of special issues.
The visual control can thus be considered a contemporary research and implementation issue, with an increasing industrial impact.
A few European R&D projects, such as CUMULI, (Esprit IV), FMBICT972462 (TMR project, 4th FP), FMBICT972281 (TMR project, 4th FP) and VIGOR, (Esprit-IV) have been involved in this area.