1. Introduction

This page introduces concepts and technical aspects of hardshare. If you just want to get started, skip to the Quickstart.

1.1. Overview

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As illustrated above, the main parts are:

  1. your robot (also referred to as “device” or “devices”),
  2. host computer on which a hardshare client runs,
  3. rerobots infrastructure,
  4. remote users.

The word “robot” is broadly interpreted here: essentially, it is a device or collection of devices that are connected somehow. The robot and the surrounding environment are together known as a workspace deployment. Robots that are owned and managed by the company rerobots are always presented as workspace deployments with unique IDs. To share your robot via hardshare, it also must be assigned a unique ID.

The “rerobots infrastructure” is stuff described at https://help.rerobots.net/ and includes facilities like a Python client library and sandboxes.

The hardshare client is the part that manages the lifecycle of remote access, including advertising that the robot is available, creating SSH tunnels to a local container, and enforcing constraints like input filters.

When you create a workspace deployment, you become the owner and can make adminstrative decisions.

Remote users do not necessarily have rerobots accounts. The kinds of access that are possible depend on the permissions assigned by the owner.

1.2. Lifecycle of instances

The time during which a user has exclusive access to a workspace deployment is known as an instance. The process of requesting, getting credentials, and terminating an instance is similar to how you might get a “compute node” from a “cloud computing” company, like Packet or DigitalOcean:

  1. Someone requests access using the unique ID of the workspace deployment.
  2. The remote user is connected through a container that you host locally.
  3. Their input/output can be constrained according to filter rules. For example, the “reboot” command is dropped, while getting sensor data is accepted.
  4. The instance is terminated when the remote user is done. (If needed, you can force termination at any time.)
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1.3. Interfaces around instances

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The rerobots/hardshare architecture provides for specifying how hardware appears to an instance. If carefully configured, any device can be shared through instances safely and securely. The precise meanings of safe and secure depend on the hardware in the workspace deployment, but the basic organization is the same: associate actions with lifecycle events (e.g., initialization), and monitor input and output streams.

The default configuration of a new hardshare client installation does not enforce any contracts. Instances in this case have unfiltered access to hardware. This can be a good first choice in trusted settings, such as a team working closely together at a company.