Daniel Di Marco is part of Deepfield Robotics, a 20 person agricultural robotics startup within Bosch. Deepfield makes robots that can, among other things, visually locate and then brutally destroy weeds by pounding them into the dirt. In order to deliver software to their customers, Deepfield decided to create its own build farm, and Di Marco’s ROSCon presentation explains why managing a build farm internally is a good idea for a startup.
A build farm is a system that can automatically create Debian packages for you, while running integrated unit tests and generating documentation. OSRF already supports all of ROS with its own build farm, so why would anyone want to set up a build farm for themselves instead? Simple, says Di Marco: it’s something you should do if you actually want to make money with your robots.
If ROS is a part of your thriving robotics business, running a build farm allows you to do several important things. First, since you’re hosting your code on your own servers, you can maintain control over it, protecting your intellectual property and any proprietary components that you may be using. Second, you can use your build farm to distribute your packages directly to your customers, who are (presumably) paying you, and not to just anybody who swings by and wants to snag them. And lastly, you can decide what versions of different packages you want to keep using, rather than being subjected to upgrades that may not work as well.
Di Marco concludes by discussing why Docker is an easy and reliable foundation for a build farm, and how to get it set up. Most of the process has been scripted, thanks to some hard work at OSRF, and Di Marco walks us through an initial deployment to help you get your own build farm up and running.
Next up: Ralph Seulin, Raphael Duverne, and Olivier Morel (CNRS – Univ. Bourgogne Franche-Comte)
Check out last week’s post: Ruffin White of Georgia Tech