Robot devastation FSM

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Basic Elements

The Robot Devastation FSM has three main elements: the State, the State Director, and the FiniteStateMachine.

Class diagram


This is the base class for each state of the FiniteStateMachine.

To create custom states, you mush inherit from this class, and implement the following members:

  • setup() -> Function executed just before the loop function, when the state is enabled, returns false if some problem ocurred.
  • loop() -> Function executed periodically when the state is active, returns false if some problem ocurred.
  • cleanup() -> Function excuted when this state is going to be stopped (due to an error or a transition), false if some problem ocurred.
  • evaluateConditions() -> This function is called after each call to loop() in order to know the transition to make. An integer value is assigned to each possible transition to identify them. This functions must return the transition selected depending on the conditions of the state.

You must also specify and id in the state_id internal variable.


Execution flow of the different states is controlled through a StateDirector class attached to a State. It is not necessary to implement a custom StateDirector for a custom State, as the StateDirector just provides a method to control how States are executed and how transitions are performed.

When a StateDirector is started, it becomes the active StateDirector, and the associated State's setup() function is called. Then, it enters in the run loop, in which, periodically, the StateDirector executes the State's loop() method. After the loop() method is executed, the State's evaluateConditions() function is called, obtaining the id of the next state to be run. If the next state is not the current state, the current state is stopped and the next one is started.


The StateMachine class provides a nice interface to manipulate the StateMachine. States are added and configured and, then, the FiniteStateMachine is executed with the start() function. From that point, the FiniteStateMachine takes care of the execution flow and the deletion of the different states once the execution has finished.

To create a FiniteStateMachine, a StateMachineBuilder is typically used. More info about StateMachineBuilder in the examples section.

Execution flow of the FiniteStateMachine

RD StateMachineFlow.svg

How to use it

This is a simple example to illustrate how to use the StateMachine.

Let us assume we are going to use the "MockupState" to create a StateMachine. The fist step is to include all the required headers:

#include "State.hpp"
#include "MockupState.hpp"
#include "StateDirector.hpp"
#include "YarpStateDirector.hpp"
#include "StateMachine.hpp"
#include "StateMachineBuilder.hpp"

Then, we create the StateMachineBuilder that will help us configure the FSM:

StateMachineBuilder builder;

We select the type of StateDirector to be "YARP", in order to use the YarpStateDirector:


Next step is to add the required states. When adding these states, the function will return us the id given to them. We must keep these ids in order to setup the transitions later.

int state1_id = builder.addState(new MockupState(1));
int state2_id = builder.addState(new MockupState(2));
int state3_id = builder.addState(new MockupState(3));

If the new() operator is used, the StateMachine will handle the object deletion using delete(). Otherwise we are in charge of deleting the dynamically allocated objects.

To setup the transitions, we use the ids previously obtained. The addTransition method takes three arguments: the source state, the destination state, and the value of evaluateConditions() that triggers that transition.

builder.addTransition(state1_id, state2_id, 2);
builder.addTransition(state2_id, state1_id, 1);
builder.addTransition(state2_id, state3_id, 3);
builder.addTransition(state3_id, state1_id, 1);

Finally, we setup the initial state:


Once everything is configured, we call the buildStateMachine method to get our StateMachine:

 FiniteStateMachine * fsm = builder.buildStateMachine();

When we want to start the FiniteStateMachine, we use the start() method:


To stop the FiniteStateMachine we can call the stop method:


To learn how to add an end state to finish the FSM flow, check out the next section.

Adding an end state

An end state is equivalent to a StateDirector with a NULL state. When using the StateMachineBuilder, a special method can be used to add such state:

int end_state_id = builder.addState(State::getEndState());

Then, we can use the obtained id to add a transition to this state:

builder.addTransition(src_state_id, end_state_id, CONDITION)