HAL Robotics Framework
(by Thibault Schwartz - HAL Robotics)
The HAL Robotics Framework provides powerful tools to model, program, simulate and control industrial machinery directly from McNeel products.
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Today is a very exciting day for all of us here at HAL Robotics.
It has been a long two years in the making but we are proud to be finally taking the first public step towards the 1.0 release of the HAL Robotics Framework.

Ready for testing and available to download today are the 1.0-beta versions of the Core feature-set and the Grasshopper client application
This means that from right now you will be able to test and break work-in-progress versions of:

  • Accurate real-time simulation 
  • Trajectory diagnosis including detection of out-of reach and singular positions
  • Motions specified in Cartesian or joint spaces
  • Simulation of blended motions
  • Online preset catalogs accessible from within Grasshopper, of robots, tools and controllers ready to drop in to your scripts
  • Program translation to ABB RAPID, KUKA KRL or Universal Robots URScript
  • Lightweight installer which allows you to add, remove and update extensions to the framework with ease
  • Cloud-based licenses to share between you own computers or your whole organisation
  • User interface adapting to the level of control you require


HAL Robotics Framework 1.0

Over the last couple of years we have written, several times over, a completely new framework for robot programming, simulation, control and monitoring which is:

  • Lightweight and cross-platform - it will run on Windows, macOS and Linux, including embedded systems
  • Independent of a host software - we will be releasing plugins for a number of CAD packages and, eventually, an API for all the software developers out there
  • Vendor-agnostic - we have abstracted the instructions machines are capable of executing and designed a new linguistics engine which will allow us to extend the number of compatible machines quickly and easily

The list of features that are underway in the framework is vast but for this first public beta we have decided to release just the core feature-set. This wasn't an easy decision to make, there is some extremely cool stuff we've temporarily kept to ourselves, but it will allow us to ensure that this base layer is robust so that any extensions to the framework are built on first-rate infrastructure. Similarly, to limit the potential sources of issues to those at the heart of our framework, we are only releasing this version for Grasshopper.
That said, to give you a taste of what's to come as we move forwards here are, in no particular order, some of the features on our roadmap:

  • 3D Printing extension
  • Import of GCode
  • Export to Staubli, Fanuc, Comau, Motoman and others
  • External axis and hybrid mechanism compatibility
  • Stationary tool support
  • Parallel robots
  • 7+ axis robots
  • Kinematic constraints with secondary objectives
  • Pick & Place extension
  • Virtual sensors
  • Additional interfaces in popular CAD software
  • and much more...


Getting Started

The first thing you'll need to do to get going is create an account on our WIP user-space. This will give you access to a trial and serve as an access to your licenses, either personal or shared. Once you create your account and verify your email address you'll find the link for the installer, which you are now free to download, and a couple of pages that may come in handy if you need to administer your licenses or organisational memberships. It's now time to install the framework. There is no need to uninstall your previous HAL Robot Programming & Control installation if you have one, the framework will run in parallel to help you migrate your existing projects. 

Once you've run the installer and selected the extensions you want to install I suggest you head over to our Getting Started playlist on YouTube which will talk you through the basics of the interface, how the new components work and what goes where to create your first executable toolpath. We will be adding more detailed tutorials over the next few weeks so please subscribe (or just check back there every so often) for walkthroughs, guides, tips and tricks directly from the team that created the software.


Improvements and Bug Reports

We are going to continue our internal testing of all our software and will be releasing fixes as quickly as we can but we also need your help to stabilize the framework. We are keen for you to start playing with and getting used to the new UI but this is still very much a β. We consider this release, and those that will follow until we are prepared to call v1.0 stable, there to be broken by you. As such we have prepared a GitHub repository for all your bug reports. The best way for us to correct issues is to be able to reproduce them ourselves and delve into the code to see what's going wrong.
Therefore, we ask for two key things when submitting issues:

  • that you tell us which build configuration you are currently using (you can see that in the About section of the HAL menu)
  • steps to reproduce the bug, with a minimal set of files to replicate the error on our side if necessary.

The more feedback you give, the more errors you find, the more issues you report, the faster we can get the HAL Robotics Framework to a stable 1.0 release and, more importantly, the more influence you will have over the final product so it does exactly what you want in the way you want.


With that we shall let you get started but don’t forget, this is public now so by all means spread the word to anyone you think may also be interested in testing out this new toolkit.
Happy programming,
The HAL Robotics Team


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For instructions on installing Grasshopper Add-Ons, please see FAQ for details.
HAL Robotics Framework 1.0-beta
Grasshopper for Rhino 4 & 5 for Win
Also by Thibault Schwartz - HAL Robotics