Join Us for DARPA’s Robotics Fast Track West Coast Tour, Nov. 17-19

RFT logo

Open Source Robotics Foundation is joining DARPA and Tandem National Security Innovations on the road to spread the word about DARPA’s Robotics Fast Track Program. We’re proud to support the opportunity for startups and roboticists to receive $150,000 to build a robot prototype.

Join us in Seattle, Redwood City, Livermore, San Diego (or all four!) to learn more about the innovative program designed to make it easier to get projects funded in weeks, not months or years by the Pentagon’s leading advanced research lab. Whether you’re a roboticist, technologist, or entrepreneur, you’ll want to join us for this rare opportunity. The events will begin with an informational session to discuss the program followed by the opportunity for attendees to meet privately with representatives from DARPA, OSRF and TandemNSI to ask specific questions about individual projects. Food and drink will be provided at each of our free events so come out and join us.

Seattle Event Details

Date/Time: Nov. 17, 2015 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Location: The Maker’s Space (92 Lenora Street, Seattle, WA 98121)
Register Here

Northern California Event Details

Lunch in Livermore
Date/Time: Nov. 18, 2015 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Location: i-GATE Innovation Hub (2324 Second St, Livermore, CA 94550)
Register Here

Evening in Redwood City
Date/Time: Nov. 18, 2015 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Location: TechShop Mid Peninsula (2415 Bay Road, Redwood City, CA 94063)
Register Here

San Diego Event Details

Date/Time: Nov. 19, 2015 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Location: The Basement — UC San Diego (9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093)
Register Here

To learn even more about the program, the Robotics Fast Track website has specifics on how to apply, and more details on the technologies that DARPA seeks. We look forward to seeing you at one of the West Coast events!

Happy Halloween!

OSRF in costume
Happy Halloween from OSRF! Our commitment to wearing costumes at work is as strong as our commitment to open source software!

Tune in to ROSCon 2015, Oct. 3-4

ROSCon 2015 logo

This year’s ROSCon is nearly upon us. If you haven’t yet made plans to get yourself to Hamburg, then you are out of luck as this year’s ROSCon has sold out. The good news is that we are live streaming ROSCon presentations free of charge, courtesy of Qualcomm.

Click here for the live stream beginning 9:00 a.m. CEST, 2015, 12:00 a.m. PDT or 3:00 a.m. EDT on October 3, 2015.

All sessions will also be recorded and made available for viewing in the near future. Follow @OSRFoundation for announcements about their availability.

A final thank you to Platinum Sponsors Fetch Robotics and Ubuntu; Gold Sponsors 3D Robotics, Bosch, Clearpath Robotics, GaiTech, Magazino, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Rethink Robotics, Robotis, Robotnik, ROS-Industrial, Shadow Robot Company, SICK and Synapticon; and Silver Sponsors Erle Robotics and Northwestern University, McCormick School of Engineering.

Check out the program here.

If you’re attending in-person, we look forward to seeing you soon!

Gazebo Rendering Abstraction

During his internship with OSRF, Mike Kasper developed a new ignition-robotics rendering library. The key feature of this library is that it provides an abstract render-engine interface for building and rendering scenes. This allows the library to employ multiple underlying render engines. The motivation for this work was to extend Gazebo’s rendering capabilities to provide near photo-realistic imagery for simulated camera sensors. This could then be utilized for the development and testing of perceptions algorithms.

As Gazebo currently employs the Object-Oriented Graphics Rendering Engine (OGRE), an OGRE-based implementation has been added to the ignition-rendering library. Additionally, a render-engine using NVIDIA’s OptiX ray-tracing engine has also been implemented. The current OptiX-based render-engine employs simple ray-tracing techniques, but will employ physically based path-tracing techniques in the future to generate photo-realistic imagery.

The following videos give an overview of the libraries’ current capabilities:

Source code for the ignition-rendering library is available here:

Fifty Planes in the Air Running ROS & Gazebo

The Advanced Robotic Systems Engineering Lab at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA recently flew fifty small autonomous planes together using ROS.

Each plane – a styrofoam wing with a 56” wingspan – was equipped with a Pixhawk autopilot running a modified version of the open-source Ardupilot firmware and an ODroid u3 “payload” computer running ROS Indigo. The payload used autopilot_bridge (similar to mavros) to bridge between serial communications with the autopilot and ROS messages and services. A network node bridged ROS communications with a lightweight UDP-based protocol that allowed aircraft to share their pose and status with one another and to receive commands from the ground.

Also residing on the payload was a set of controller nodes that could “drive” the plane by sending updated target latitude-longitude-altitude commands to the autopilot. Controllers were individually activated by a state machine, based on commands from the ground. The controller used during the fifty-plane flight was a follower controller. A single ground operator commanded two sets of 25 planes each to configure themselves into leader-follower formations; planes would determine a leader based on highest altitude (which was deconflicted at the start of the flight). The leader would then proceed along a predefined racetrack, and all followers, listening to the broadcast position of the leader, would track its path while remaining at their designated altitudes.

A detailed writeup of the flight test is posted at DIY Drones and more information on the research project can be found at the ARSENL website.

Gazebo gets better at flying and diving

As another result of the exciting DARPA Robotics Challenge, Gazebo has improved its capabilities in the aeronautics and hydrodynamics fields. We expect these changes to benefit the way UAVs and UUVs are simulated and we hope to contribute more novel developments in this area. OSRF has developed two new Gazebo plugins:

  • LiftDragPlugin: This plugin simulates the forces on an object immersed in a fluid and applies the forces to the object’s links directly. In particular, the phenomena of lift and drag are instrumental to underwater and aerodynamic vehicles. You can learn more about this plugin in its own tutorial.
  • BuoyancyPlugin: This plugin simulates buoyancy by generating a force opposing gravity exerted on an object immersed in a fluid. Check out this tutorial to learn more about how to use this plugin.

We have also created other resources that might be useful for your simulations:

  • Cessna C-172 model: Control surfaces fully adjustable via plugins.
  • Submarine models: A set of basic propeller-based submarines with different buoyancy properties.

In the next Gazebo release, we will also make available two different world files containing simple environments for the Cessna and submarine models.

In the videos below you can see a teaser of some of the new Gazebo capabilities. We are excited about these contributions but we are also aware of the various missing features that would make such simulations even better. We are looking forward to integrating your contributions into Gazebo in any possible way: Improve the current plugins, integrate Gazebo with other existing tools, or create awesome environments. Don’t be shy and contribute to Gazebo!


ROS & Gazebo at the DRC Finals

DRC Finals logo
OSRF has been intimately involved in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) from the beginning in June 2012, when we started getting Gazebo into shape to meet the simulation needs of DRC teams, including hosting the Virtual Robotics Challenge (VRC) in June 2013. So the DRC Finals this past weekend was a special event for us, representing three years of work from our team.

We were especially excited to see widespread use of both ROS and Gazebo during the two-day competition. Walking through the team garage area during the finals, we saw many screens showing rviz and other ROS tools, and even one with a browser open to ROS Answers (some last-minute debugging, we assume).

We talked with several teams who used Gazebo in their software development and testing, including teams using robots other than the Atlas that we modeled for the VRC. In the post-DRC workshop on Sunday, both first-place Team KAIST and third-place Tartan Rescue discussed their use of Gazebo, in particular for developing solutions to fall-recovery and vehicle egress. That’s one of the reasons we work on Gazebo: to give roboticists the tools they need to safely develop robot software to handle unsafe situations, without risk to people or hardware.

Based on our observations at the competition and communications with team members, out of the 23 DRC Finals teams, we count 18 teams using ROS and 14 teams using Gazebo. We couldn’t be happier to see such impact from open source robot software!

OSRF welcomes our 2015 GSoC students


OSRF is pleased to welcome Frantisek Durovsky, Konstantinos Chatzilygeroudis, Mykola Dolhyi, Nima Shafii, Ratnesh Madaan and Steve Ataucuri, our 2015 students for the Google Summer of Code!

Frantisek is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Robotics, Technical University Kosice, Slovakia. His main focus is on industrial robotics, currently working on his thesis titled “Human-Robot collaboration in manufacturing processes”. He is also a member of SmartRoboticSystems developers group which aims to popularize ROS in the region of Czech Republic and Slovakia. This summer he will work on ROS-Profinet wrapper, in order to make world’s most advanced Industrial Ethernet available to ROS community.

Konstantinos Chatzilygeroudis recently received his Diploma from Computer Engineering and Informatics Department, University of Patras and he is a member of Robotics Group of University of Patras. In his diploma thesis “Navigation of Humanoid Robot NAO in Unknown Space” he dealt with humanoid robot kinematics, dynamics, SLAM and motion planning (bipedal locomotion). As a member of Robotics Group Konstantinos is researching path planning for mobile robots using collision aware techniques. As a GSoC 2015 intern, Konstantinos will focus on adding more features to the core library of the Ignition Robotics Transport Library.

Mykola Dolhyi is pursuing a Bachelor of Mathematics at Taras Shevchenko University. He is in constant search of new cool technologies. Mykola has studied computer vision, machine learning, heterogeneous parallel computing. He is particularly interested in cryptography, computer graphics, game development and flying drones. Mykola will be working on the camera sensor part of Gazebo, and maybe some other improvements in graphics realism and quality.

Nima Shafii is a Ph.D. candidate of informatics engineering at Porto University and a member of the Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science Laboratory (LIACC), Porto, Portugal. He is currently working on his thesis on humanoid robot locomotion and is interested in developing autonomous soccer humanoid robots. His goal is improving locomotion approaches allowed a humanoid robot to perform soccer skills faster and more robust. During the past five years, He
has actively participated in events such as RoboCup. Nima will be working on Gazebo simulator in order to adapt it to simulate RoboCup soccer environment.

Ratnesh Madaan graduated this May from Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee with a B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering. This summer, he is working with ROS-I on combining the capabilities of Descartes and MoveIt! by developing a hybrid motion planner to handle both free space and semi-constrained trajectory segments. He is deferring his Masters program offers to gain experience in different sub-fields of robotics this year via internships or other opportunities, in order to be better prepared for the Fall 2016 cohort. In his free time, he likes to go on impromptu cycling excursions, sketch sporadically and listen (and lazily think of getting back) to music.

Steve is pursuing his studies in Electronics and Automatization at Cesca Institute. He got his B.S in Computer Science from San Pablo University in 2013. Steve has been focusing his research on Reinforcement learning to a robot soccer team. He is interested in machine learning, image processing techniques, embedded systems and drones. At OSRF, Steve will be building drivers to integrate Neuronal interfaces for ROS/Gazebo simulator.

We are excited to extend the intern family at OSRF and work with Frantisek, Konstantinos, Mykola, Nima, Ratnesh and Steve, in the coming months. We look forward to their contributions this summer!

Stop by the OSRF booth at the DRC Finals!

Join OSRF at the biggest robotics event of the year, the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Finals! If you’re looking for some excitement on June 5 and 6, head on over to the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif. for two days of free robotics competition and demonstrations. OSRF will be at the Expo in full force with 4 interactive demos and more stickers than you have surfaces to stick them on.

The DRC Finals will be divided into two parts. The Technology Expo will offer dozens of interactive exhibits and demonstrations, and the competition Grandstands will provide an excellent view as 25 robotics organizations from around the world compete for $3.5 million in prizes.

We’ve worked on the DARPA Robotics Challenge since it kicked off in 2012. In June 2013, we helped host the DARPA Virtual Robotics Challenge which awarded 8 Boston Dynamics Atlas robots to the most successful competitors. In December 2013, we participated in the Expo at the DRC Trials in Florida. It has been thrilling to take part in such an impressive, impactful robotics program, and we can’t wait to witness the grand conclusion in just one week.

If you’re in the Pomona area next Friday and Saturday, we’d love to see you at the OSRF booth (#14). Just hang a left as you enter the Expo area, and you’ll see us a few booths down on the right side. We’ll have a handful of demos for you to check out, including simulated foosball and drone flying, a motion capture system with haptic feedback, and a bale of Turtlebots you can drive around.

For more information, check out the DRC Finals website:

Here’s a map of the Expo area:

Robotics Fast Track now accepting applications

We’re excited to announce that OSRF and BIT Systems are seeking innovative and revolutionary robotics projects for the Robotics Fast Track (RFT) effort, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The goals of Robotics Fast Track are:

  1. Enable rapid, cost-effective development of new robotics capabilities designed to respond to, and even anticipate, quickly evolving needs in space, maritime, ground, and air operations. RFT will focus on the development of groundbreaking robotic hardware and software by funding novel approaches as well as creative adaptations of existing technologies.
  2. Achieve breakthrough capabilities in less time and at a fraction of the cost typical of government-supported robotic development processes by engaging highly agile organizations and individuals who traditionally have not worked with the U.S. government.

Learn more and apply at!