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RCS: The NBS Real-Time Control System



Tony Barbera, M L. Fitzgerald, James S. Albus, L Haynes


The National Bureau of Standards, Industrial Systems Division designed the Real-Time Control System where high-level goals are decomposed through a succession of levels, each producing strings of simpler commands to the next lower level. The bottom level generates the drive signals to the robot, gripper, and other actuators. Each control level is a separate process with a limited scope of responsibility, independent of the details at other levels, thus providing a foundation for future modular, plug compatible hardware and software for robots and real-time sensory interactive control applications. To aid in specifying the required task decomposition and task processing, a programming language and program development environment were implemented. Programs at each control level are expressed as state tables, and the programming environment permits the generation, editing, emulation, and evaluation of these state tables. The control system is completely interactive, allowing the system to run freely, or be single-stepped to any level of detail.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of the Robots 8 Conference and Exposition
Conference Dates
June 4-7, 1984
Conference Location
Detroit, MI, USA
Conference Title
Volume 2 - Future Considerations




Barbera, T. , Fitzgerald, M. , Albus, J. and Haynes, L. (1984), RCS: The NBS Real-Time Control System, Proceedings of the Robots 8 Conference and Exposition, Detroit, MI, USA, [online], (Accessed June 22, 2024)


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Created June 6, 1984, Updated October 12, 2021