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Interview with Jan Van Bruaene, RTI





In his current role of Vice President of Engineering, Jan is responsible for RTI’s Research and Development efforts. He leads a distributed engineering team of more than 60 people developing RTI Connext’s software, and is responsible for the software development processes and product quality.

The revolution in autonomous transportation is also changing the aerospace market with the introduction of “flying taxis”.

The origin of your company is based on an OMG standard called Data Distribution Service. How did you leverage the know-how behind this standard to exploit it as a set of marketable products? What are the benefits for a company using this technology?

RTI has been very instrumental in the creation of the OMG Data Distribution Service standards (DDS). Several of the original ideas can be traced back to our earlier NDDS product. We adopted both the standardized DDS API and interoperable Real-Time Publish-Subscribe (RTPS) wire protocol when we launched RTI Connext DDS 4.x. 

We continue to lead the creation of interoperable middleware standards around DDS, most recently with the standardization of DDS-Security, Extensible and Dynamic Topic Types (DDS-XTypes), DDS-RPC and a mapping of DDS for web platforms (DDS-WEB). 

Based upon the OMG DDS standards, RTI has developed an entire secure Connectivity SDK and product suite, called RTI Connext. 

  • First of all, we provide several libraries to efficiently share data. RTI Connext DDS Professional is our full-featured product. RTI Connext DDS Secure adds support for the DDS-Security standard. RTI Connext DDS Micro targets small footprint devices. RTI Connext DDS Cert enables customers to build systems with demanding functional safety requirements.
  • Secondly, we provide a set of applications (aka services) which allow you to record and replay real-time data (Recording Service), or to log the real-time data in a database (Database Integration Service). You can integrate with another databus or create hierarchical systems, using the Routing Service. The Queuing Service provides load balancing. You can persist data for when the original publisher is no longer available using the Persistence Service. The Web Integration Service provides a proxy for web applications to access the real-time databus. One of our experimental products, Cloud Discovery Service, enables DDS discovery in cloud-based environments.
  • Lastly, we offer a set of development and management tools: the Administration Console to both get an overview of your system and visualize real-time data, Monitor, an RTPS-dissector for Wireshark, Prototyper, rapid prototyping tool, etc.

Our products are supported on more than 80 different platforms, and support many programming languages: C, C++, Java, C#, Ada, Python, Lua, and Javascript. 

Developers and system designers should care about choosing a standards-based technology like DDS, because first, it provides an open and interoperable wire protocol. This allows multiple vendors to interoperate. At the OMG meetings, different vendors regularly demonstrate the interoperability of the various DDS standards. The RTPS wire protocol also allows you to build your own tools or enable others to build tools around DDS.

Secondly, the DDS standards target industrial IoT-type of systems. These systems are deployed for long periods of time. Upgrading the entire system can be very costly. Being able to upgrade subsystems, or add new capabilities is important. The DDS Extensibility standard allows for the evolution of systems, without having to upgrade the entire deployed system. Similarly, new capabilities are added to the wire protocol in a manner that enables them to continue to interoperate with deployed systems. 

Thirdly, DDS-Security offers you interoperable and fine-grained security options, through a pluggable security framework. 

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, DDS is a data-centric technology. It makes you think about your system in terms of what data an application produces and consumes, and with which characteristics (Quality of Service). An architecture based upon a clear data model allows for better integration of different subsystems. An infrastructure which understands the data, can be much smarter about representing the state of the system, and delivering the data efficiently, just to those are interested in it. 


RTI is a tech company based in Silicon Valley with close ties with Spain. Where do these ties come from?

RTI has strong ties with Granada in Spain. Our CTO, Dr Gerardo Pardo-Castellote, is originally from Granada, and graduated from the University of Granada, before coming to study at Stanford University. Several of our engineers in our Sunnyvale headquarters are also from Spain.

About six years ago, we started a development centre in Granada with four engineers. Since then we have grown the team in Spain to over 30 people, in the areas of development, support, sales, services and operations. We are about to move again into a larger office space in Granada this year, as we continue to grow the team. This strong presence in Europe allows for very fast turnaround times for any type of support request. 

Our partnership with the University of Granada also continues to be strong. We collaborate on research and final thesis topics, participate in the university’s tech challenges where students solve real world problems, and provide industry presentations to the computer science students.

Our engagement in Spain is not limited to Granada. Several other Spanish universities are working with our technology, such as the University of Malaga and the Carlos III University in Madrid. And we’ve attracted students from a variety of other universities in Spain, including the University of Cordoba, University of Las Palmas and the University of Extremadura. 


As you know, AERTEC Solutions is focused on the aeronautics sector, working in the whole lifecycle of the airport and the aircraft industry, and also developing critical aerospace systems. What is the current activity of RTI in this sector and what is the role of DDS in this field?

RTI has a long track record in the aerospace industry. My first projects at RTI, more than ten years ago, were as a senior services engineer, working on a small satellite program and on a communication system for military airplanes. 

Our technology and products are used across many different type of aeronautics applications. DDS is deployed on several US military planes, as part of several US unmanned aircraft systems and their ground control systems. INDRA uses Connext DDS in their Air Traffic Management Systems across Spain and Germany and other countries in the world. Our products are used as part of the Air Traffic Control systems for Canada, the 2nd largest air navigation service provider in the world. And RTI Connext DDS has operated Shanghai Pudong International airport ground control since 2015, and is expanding to additional air operations across the East China region.

Key to our product offering in this market is RTI Connext DDS Cert, a DO-178C (EUROCAE ED-12C) safety certifiable version of our middleware. It is used to enable UAS flight in US National Air Space through a Ground Based Sense and Avoid system. Also, the RTI FACE 2.1 TSS Reference Implementation is important in this market, as it makes it easy for component developers to support the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE). 

The revolution in autonomous transportation is also changing the aerospace market with the introduction of “flying taxis”. At RTI, we’re especially excited to hear from Airbus Vahana, at our Silicon Valley Connext conference. Airbus Vahana is developing the first certified, electric, self-piloted vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) passenger aircraft.


AERTEC Solutions and RTI are about to begin collaboration on an R&D project that is part of the Clean Sky II (1) R&D program. In which areas do you think there could be possibilities for future collaborations between RTI and AERTEC Solutions?

The RTI Connext DDS products are designed to solve problems requiring secure real-time communications. Looking at Aertec Solutions’ long list of projects, there is a lot of synergy in projects around UAVs, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) and Air Traffic Control.


(1) RTI Data Distribution Service products are being used in the framework of PASSARO (caPAbilities for innovative Structural and functional teSting of AeROstructures) project, being AERTEC Solutions core partner of Clean Sky 2.

PASSARO has received funding from the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No CS2-AIR-GAM-2014-2015-01.



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