CORTEX: a software suite for faster and easier robot controller engineering

The CORTEX software suite leverages 30 years of CEA-List robotics research and development for faster and easier robot controller engineering.


Easier robot controller development

CEA-List labs have been pursuing robotics research and development, with a particular focus on Computer-Aided Teleoperation (or CAT), since the 1970s.

CORTEX (Components-Oriented Real-Time EXecution engine), the latest generation of CEA-List’s robotic software framework, is the result of 30 years of robotics experience. CORTEX makes developing robot controllers faster and simpler.


Addressing the entire robotic system lifecycle

CORTEX is designed for both scientific research and industrial applications. It addresses the entire robotic system lifecycle, from prototyping and scaleup to operation and maintenance.


Flexible, user friendly, and reliable

All aspects of the CORTEX suite have been designed to respond to three imperatives: modularity for increased flexibility, ergonomics for an optimal user experience, and reliability to ensure operating safety.

It includes:

  • A modular, component-based real-time framework
  • A set of resources that includes general purpose or robotic components, controller architecture templates, and a skill-based robotic API (skills are task oriented functions for domain specific use cases)
  • A set of tools like graphical modeling, code generation, graphical user interfaces, tuneup and diagnostic tools.

The CORTEX suite can also be used to develop any kind of non-robotic physical system controller or data processing application.


Model-driven engineering and complexity management

CORTEX outpaces other state-of-the-art robotics frameworks (ROS/ROS2, OROCOS, RTMAPS, etc.) in several ways:

  • Performance, with hard real-time framework optimization for shorter cycle times and reduced delays in event handling.
  • Complexity management based on meta-components lets users map controllers hierarchically and manage different operating modes, enabling the dynamic reconfiguration of internal wiring. This simpler, better-organized architecture design process allows more complex scenarios to be addressed.
  • A holistic approach based on proven controller architectures, with all the tools and resources necessary to develop and operate robot controllers with a single suite of tools that work together seamlessly.
  • Model-driven engineering, with graphical modelling and code generation to automatically generate executable application skeletons. Graphical modeling ensures architecture sanity. It also sharply cuts down development time, facilitates standardization, and improves reliability of the generated code.
Use cases

Graphical user interface

CORTEX currently provides a prototype of generic purpose GUI both for robot control (joint or Cartesian control, tele-operation…) and for system tuning and maintenance (parameters editing and recording). Its modular design allows for easy development of new widgets to address user-specific needs.

Use cases

Remote handling controllers

In the nuclear industry, remote handling is used to manipulate dangerous objects in hot cells and glove boxes, for example.

CORTEX facilitates the development of hard real-time controllers so that developers can rapidly integrate all the functions required for effective remote handling, covering all aspects of the tasks:

  • Connection of multiple master and slave arms as needed.
  • Interaction with the digital twin and scripting language to facilitate preparation of the tasks.
  • Operator assistance for faster, safer, and more precise execution, with features like 3D supervision, virtual guides, and active collision avoidance.


See also

Research programs

Smart robotics

Creating smart interactive robots to serve humans.
Read more
Research programs

Architectures and software

The widespread adoption of smart robotics will depend on robotic functions that are easy to reuse and adapt to new systems and situations.
Read more
Software development environments


SCORE: simplified robotic programming interface and supervised control system development.
Read more