Open Robotics http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho Powering the world's robots Thu, 31 May 2018 21:58:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshowp-content/uploads/2017/04/openrobotics-32x32.png Open Robotics http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho 32 32 Join Open Robotics at the IEEE Vision, Innovation and Challenge Summit on May 11 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshojoin-open-robotics-at-the-ieee-vision-innovation-and-challenge-summit-on-may-11/ Tue, 24 Apr 2018 06:01:51 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2742 [Read More]]]> The IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit features 15 world-class speakers who will deep dive into the most crucial areas of technology today, including robotics, genome therapy, mixed reality, geometric processing and animated film, the role of engineers in todays society and more.

Members of the Open Robotics community can save 20% off registration by using the discount code: VICSRobotics.

This year, the Summit will feature a panel entitled: Robots on the Rise, The Future of Robotics and AI, moderated by Stanford University Professor, Oussama Khatib, and joined by panelists Cynthia Breazeal, Associate Prof. at MIT & Founder and Chief Scientist of Jibo, Inc.; Eric Krotkov, COO at Toyota Research Institute; Marc Raibert, Founder and CEO of Boston Dynamics; and Grant Imahara, Consulting Mechanical Designer, Disney Research and Host, Discovery Channel’s MythBusters.

Marc Raibert of Boston Dynamics will be bringing SpotMini – the robot dog

After the days sessions, there is a night of festivities and entertainment with the IEEE Honors Ceremony which celebrates the contributions of some of the greatest minds of our time who have made a lasting impact on society for the benefit of humanity In other words, the Academy Awards for Technologists and Engineers.

Your all access pass includes

● All summit sessions
● Networking breakfast and demos
● Luncheon mixer and networking reception
● Ticket to the Honors Ceremony with 3-course dinner
● Entertainment

Learn more and register at This event will sell out so secure your seat early.

New office: Singapore http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshonew-office-singapore/ Mon, 26 Mar 2018 17:55:43 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2703 [Read More]]]> In a major milestone for the open source robotics community, we’re proud to announce that we’re opening our first overseas office in Singapore. More details will be available soon, but Open Robotics is joining the growing ranks of enthusiastic ROS and Gazebo developers in Singapore. We’re honored that this development was mentioned by Senior Minister of State Koh Poh Koon in his speech at the opening of the new LaunchPad Robotics Centre.

Dr. Morgan Quigley and Dr. Michael Grey will be the first employees working in the Singapore office. We will be hiring to grow the team as we work with local partners to continue the development and evangelism of ROS and Gazebo, as well as to focus on efforts around ROS 2. If you would like to join us in Singapore, please keep an eye out for local job openings.

According to our most recent metrics, half of the top ten countries of origin for visitors to the ROS wiki are in Asia, but it doesn’t take a mathematician (or a roboticist) to realize the importance of the Asia-Pacific market, particularly for robotics. Needless to say, we are very excited to be setting up shop in Singapore and look forward to sharing more information about our plans, partners and progress.

We’re #1 in robotics (according to Fast Company)! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshowere-1-in-robotics-according-to-fast-company/ Thu, 22 Feb 2018 22:36:14 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2694 [Read More]]]> Fast Company just announced its annual ranking of the world’s Most Innovative Companies for 2018, honoring leading enterprises and rising newcomers that exemplify the best in business and innovation. While we can’t lay claim to the overall number 1 spot on the list this year (Apple got that one) – we can lay claim to the top spot in the robotics category:

By nature and by profession, our work typically happens behind the scenes. Ours is the software inside the robot, and the simulation software that helps companies and individuals build those robots. We’re not the slick robots moving items through a warehouse or making farming more efficient; we’ll leave that to fellow honorees Fetch Robotics and Blue River Technology. But both of those companies, and others on this list, make use of our software. Their success is our success, and for that we are very proud.

To the team at Fast Company, thank you for the acknowledgment of our work! We are humbled and honored to be so recognized. And to the users, contributors, developers, and champions of open source robotics technology, we owe you a debt of gratitude as well.

Open Robotics goes to the Shark Tank http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoopen-robotics-goes-to-the-shark-tank/ Mon, 12 Feb 2018 19:11:20 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2685 [Read More]]]> Last week we all went to see the San Jose Sharks play the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the Shark Tank (officially known as the SAP Center):

Despite the fact that in the end the home team lost, a good time was had by all:

And our own Deanna Hood made an impressive showing in a shark outfit

…that got her onto the Jumbotron!

Renewed support from Toyota Research Institute! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshorenewed-support-from-toyota-research-institute/ Wed, 07 Feb 2018 18:40:38 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2645 [Read More]]]> We’re honored and excited to share the news of renewed support for our work from Toyota Research Institute (TRI):

Toyota Research Institute (TRI) continues its commitment to open source robotics software by renewing its charitable contribution to the Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF). For the second consecutive year, TRI is donating $1 million to OSRF which offers the global robotics community access to open source robotics software and development tools.

We’re immensely grateful for TRI’s continued generosity and ongoing commitment to open source!

Lynbrook FTC Robotics Team visit http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsholynbrook-ftc-robotics-team-visit/ Fri, 12 Jan 2018 21:51:48 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2636 [Read More]]]> This week we were happy to receive a visit from team Fireworks of Lynbrook High School in nearby San Jose.

These young women compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge, in which middle and high school students build, program, and control robots to play a game that involves a variety of mobility and manipulation challenges.

The Fireworks presented their team and technical approach to the competition, and also gave us a live demo of their robot.

Along the way we learned that in addition to competing themselves, the Fireworks are active in outreach and mentoring for other students, especially women, through their Gist2Wist organization.

If this group is any indication, we’ll soon see some impressive and enthusiastic talent coming into the robotics field!

Happy Halloween! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshohappy-halloween-4/ Wed, 01 Nov 2017 23:16:44 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2615 Happy Halloween, everyone! We all celebrate Halloween at Open Robotics, no matter where we’re working from!

ROSCon 2017 Diversity Program http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoroscon2017-diversity-review/ Thu, 28 Sep 2017 21:19:47 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2714 [Read More]]]> ROSCon 2017 marked the second year of the conference’s diversity program, which is designed to enable participation in ROSCon by those typically underrepresented in the tech community. Thanks to the support of the program’s sponsors Fetch Robotics, NVIDIA, Rapyuta Robotics and Voyage, we were joined at the conference by sixteen roboticists who otherwise wouldn’t have made it to Vancouver.

Partial group photo of the ROSCon 2017 Diversity Scholarship recipients and Diversity Committee.

To get a sense of the impact that the ROSCon Diversity Scholarship Program had this year, we’re proud to share some comments from scholarship recipients about their experience about the conference and the ROS community as a whole:

The ROSCon Diversity Scholarship Program provided me with an opportunity that would have been completely impossible without it. I was able to attend my first robotics conference and feel empowered to keep working to try and make a positive impact on this community. Also, it was very encouraging to see so many companies stepping up to promote and enable diversity within their companies and the robotics community. Thank you!

This conference was an amazing eye-opening for me. I loved how these big projects apply ROS on real solutions, and how they are pushing forward the current boundaries on equipment and data managing. Thanks so much for this opportunity, and honored and so thankful to be part of this community!

A big thank you goes out to the scholarship recipients for helping us make ROSCon more representative of the global and diverse ROS community, and to the ROSCon Diversity Committee and the conference’s diversity program sponsors, without which this wouldn’t have been possible:


Goodbye, ROSCon 2017 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshogoodbye-roscon-2017/ Tue, 26 Sep 2017 19:13:29 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2607 [Read More]]]> After a gorgeous and enlightening couple of days in Vancouver, we bid farewell to ROSCon 2017. We sold out ROSCon for the third year in a row, with over 475 attendees.

Thanks to everyone for coming and for your support! And thank you to our record-breaking 33 sponsors for the financial support that enabled the conference to grow!

We’re posting the slides as they come in from the speakers and we expect to have the videos posted by October 6th. As usual, all of that material is linked in the program.


ROS2 Object Detection Demo http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoros2-object-detection-demo/ Tue, 29 Aug 2017 23:09:58 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2589 [Read More]]]> During his internship with Open Robotics, Adam Allevato ported a 3D object detector into ROS 2 and made it run on live depth camera data. The detector leverages ROS 2 features such as intraprocess communication and shared memory to run with lower overhead than the ROS 1 version. Using the ros1_bridge, we can also interface the detector with ROS 1 tools (like Rviz) if desired.

By porting a few other packages for vision and robot motion, we are now able to perform vision-based manipulation using an industrial robot arm 100% ROS 2 code. We like to call this the “picky robot” because it can preferentially push food it doesn’t like off the table and into the trash.

For even more details, attend our upcoming ROSCon 2017 talk, “Using ROS2 for Vision-Based Manipulation with Industrial Robots,”.

The demo is open source and available on Github (still in development). We’re excited to integrate even more use cases and platforms with ROS 2 moving forward!


Welcome to Michael Grey! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshowelcome-to-michael-grey/ Thu, 17 Aug 2017 20:53:40 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2582 [Read More]]]> We’re pleased to welcome Michael Grey! Grey looks forward to developing open source software tools that enable highly dynamic robots to reach their full potential. He believes robotics will usher in the next big industrial revolution, and he would like to make sure that transformation is as open and accessible to everyone as possible. When he’s not developing software, you can probably find him practicing flips and kicks at the gym, or lost on an adventure in some other universe (… playing video games).

ROSCon 2017: Early Registration Deadline August 1st http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoroscon-2017-early-registration-deadline-august-1st/ Mon, 24 Jul 2017 23:11:09 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2575 [Read More]]]> The ROSCon registration rates increase next Tuesday, August 1st! Register now at: to get the early registration discount.

We’re anticipating another record year with more proposals, talks, and sponsors than ever before!

To save money, remember to book your hotel room soon as well. More information is available at:

For more information about ROSCon including the program and information on the location please visit:

We’re happy to announce some great new sponsors for ROSCon: SICK, Apex.AI, NVIDIA, Voyage, and Ubuntu.

Thanks to our Platinum Sponsor: Intel.
Thanks to our Gold Sponsors: Clearpath, Erle, Fetch, GaiTech, Locus, Rapyuta, and SICK.
Thanks to our Video Archive Sponsor: Ubuntu

ROSCon 2017: Program posted http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoroscon-2017-program-posted/ Tue, 11 Jul 2017 15:29:34 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2569 [Read More]]]> The results are in, and the ROSCon 2017 program has been posted!

This year saw a record response from the community, with 107 proposals submitted. Following discussion and tough decision-making among the Program Committee, we decided to accept 38 proposals for presentation (35.5% acceptance rate).

In recent years we made room in the program for 20-25 presentations, in a mixture of long (~40-minute) and medium (~20-minute) durations. This year, given the large number of high-quality proposals that were submitted, we’re trying something new, which is to add a category for short presentations, at 5 minutes each. These slots will allow the presenters to briefly introduce their work and entice the audience to follow up in person to learn more.

To encourage those in-person interactions, we’re adding another new feature this year, which is a poster session wherein attendees can find and discuss with the presenters the work that most piqued their interest. The poster session will be held at the end of the first day, during the first half of the reception.

In exchange for these additions to the program, this year we will not be holding the customary birds of a feather (BoF) sessions. While those ad hoc meetings were fun and lively in the early years, as the conference has grown it has become harder to keep them useful to a broad audience, and we’ve seen participation dropping in recent years. As always, we’re experimenting to find the best program mix for the community, and we look forward to getting your feedback on this year’s lineup.

We hope to see you in Vancouver for ROSCon in September! As a reminder, the deadline for early registration is August 1. Register today.

— Your friendly neighborhood ROSCon 2017 Organizing Committee

Thank you to our Platinum Sponsor: Intel!
Thank you to our Gold Sponsors: Clearpath, Erle, Fetch, Gaitech, Locus, and Rapyuta!

ARIAC Finals results announced http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoariac-finals-results-announced/ Wed, 05 Jul 2017 10:59:20 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2560 [Read More]]]> We are happy to announce the final results of the Agile Robotics for Industrial Automation Competition (ARIAC).

ARIAC is a simulation-based competition designed to promote agility in industrial robot systems by utilizing the latest advances in artificial intelligence and robot planning. The goal is to enable industrial robots on the shop floors to be more productive, more autonomous, and more responsive to the needs of shop floor workers. The virtual nature of the competition enabled participation of teams affiliated with companies and research institutions from across three continents.

While autonomously completing pick-and-place kit assembly tasks, teams were presented with various agility challenges developed based on input from industry representatives. These challenges include failing suction grippers, notification of faulty parts, and reception of high-priority orders that would prompt teams to decide whether or not to reuse existing in-progress kits.

Teams had control over their system’s suite of sensors positioned throughout the workcell, made up of laser scanners, intelligent vision sensors, quality control sensors and interruptible photoelectric break-beams. Each team participating in the finals chose a unique sensor configuration with varying associated costs and impact on the team’s strategy.

The diversity in the teams’ strategies and the impact of their sensor configurations can be seen in the video of highlights from the finals:

Scoring was performed based on a combination of performance, efficiency and cost metrics over 15 trials. The overall standings of the top teams are as follows.

First place: Realization of Robotics Systems, Center for Advanced Manufacturing, University of Southern California

Second place: FIGMENT, Pernambuco Federal Institute of Education, Science, and Technology / Federal University of Pernambuco

Third place: TeamCase, Case Western Reserve University

Top-performing teams will be presenting at IROS 2017 in Vancouver, Canada in a workshop held on Sunday, September 24th. Details for interested parties are available at

The IROS workshop is open to all, even those that did not compete. In addition to having presentations about approaches used in the competition, we will also be exploring plans for future competitions. If you would like to give a presentation about agility challenges you would like to see in future competitions, please contact Craig Schlenoff (

Congratulations to all teams that participated in the competition. We look forward to seeing you in Vancouver!

Simulated Car Demo http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshosimulated-car-demo/ Fri, 30 Jun 2017 18:43:37 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2546 [Read More]]]> We are excited to show off a simulation of a Prius in Mcity using ROS Kinetic and Gazebo 8. ROS enabled the simulation to be developed faster by using existing software and libraries. The vehicle’s throttle, brake, steering, and transmission are controlled by publishing to a ROS topic. All sensor data is published using ROS, and can be visualized with RViz.

We leveraged Gazebo’s capabilities to incorporate existing models and sensors.
The world contains a new model of Mcity and a freeway interchange. There are also models from the gazebo models repository including dumpsters, traffic cones, and a gas station. On the vehicle itself there is a 16 beam lidar on the roof, 8 ultrasonic sensors, 4 cameras, and 2 planar lidar.

The simulation is open source and available at on GitHub at osrf/car_demo. Try it out by installing nvidia-docker and pulling “osrf/car_demo” from Docker Hub. More information about building and running is available in the README in the source repository.

Summer intern & mentor outing http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshosummer-intern-mentor-outing/ Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:59:42 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2538 [Read More]]]> Most of the interns and mentors spent a sunny day in San Francisco together. Our first stop was at Golden Gate park, where we fired up the grill to cook some tasty tri-tip and veggies before exercising our memory playing “Merci”.

We then switched gears at SPiN, a nice bar-restaurant where you can eat, drink, listen music and play ping pong.

Some of us discovered that 8 people can play ping pong on the same table at the same time!


Gazebo renders the moon http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshogazebo-renders-the-moon/ Fri, 23 Jun 2017 21:59:54 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2526 [Read More]]]> We’ve been working for the past several months with the NASA Ames Intelligent Robotics Group. We’re helping them to model and simulate their forthcoming Resource Prospector (RP) rover, which will be sent to a pole of the moon to drill for water (as ice) and other volatiles. In advance of the mission, they’re using Gazebo to simulate RP to, among other things, support driving experiments with human operators. For these experiments, the visual realism of the camera images that we produce in Gazebo is paramount. So we’re very excited to share this recent result, which shows the view from a simulated camera mounted on the RP model being teleoperated over lunar terrain:

To create the scene shown in the video we made several improvements to the Gazebo rendering component. First, we extended Gazebo’s ability to load and render large a high resolution (8K) DEM model by 1) adding Level-Of-Detail (LOD) support, which made it possible to render large terrains at improved rendering performance; and 2) caching and saving of heightmap data to disk, which significantly reduced the load time of the model. We then added support for using custom shaders with Gazebo heightmaps. The heightmap model in the video uses a high resolution texture map, normal map, bump map, and illumination map, and applies Hapke shading and real time shadows in custom shaders. We also increased the shadow texture size and tweaked a few shadow parameters in an effort to generate sharper shadows. Finally, we post-process the scene by adding some nice looking lens flare effect to the camera.

We’re looking forward to further improving rendering in Gazebo and providing examples of what you can do to get more realistic camera images in your own simulations.

A new sign to go with the new name http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoa-new-sign-to-go-with-the-new-name/ Fri, 23 Jun 2017 21:40:12 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2522 [Read More]]]> At our company fun day last month, we used our newly acquired glass mosaic and welding skills to collaboratively create a sign that shows off our new name and logo. And now it’s hanging up in the office:

Congratulations to everybody who contributed to the construction of the sign!

Look For Open Robotics at ICRA http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsholook-for-open-robotics-at-icra/ Fri, 26 May 2017 18:08:30 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2483 [Read More]]]> Our own Tully Foote and Morgan Quigley will be leading our contingent to ICRA 2017. The event runs May 29 to June 3 in Singapore.

Prior to ICRA, Tully will be on-hand and on the agenda at the ROS-Industrial Asia Pacific workshop. The event is May 25-26 with further details here.

During ICRA, we’ll be spending lots of our time with the team at ROBOTIS, both at their booth and as part of Intel & ROBOTIS Night.

At ICRA, the ROBOTIS booth will be showing off TurtleBot 3 during the following hours:

  • May 30 (Tuesday): 08:00 – 17:00
  • May 31 (Wednesday): 08:20 –17:00
  • June 1 (Thursday): – 08:20 – 17:00

Lastly, Morgan will be part of a ROS and TurtleBot 3 tutorial at National University of Singapore. The tutorial is June 2nd from 10:00 to 4:00 pm. Details and RSVP information is here.

Welcome to Open Robotics http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshowelcome-to-open-robotics/ Tue, 16 May 2017 22:44:15 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2470 [Read More]]]> As we announced back in September, we have created the Open Source Robotics Corporation (OSRC), a subsidiary of the Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF). OSRC is a taxable subsidiary that supports the goals of its parent, OSRF, and by extension the global robotics community.

Today we are announcing that we are changing our name to Open Robotics. Information about our work will be found at Open Robotics employee emails are migrating from @localhost to

Technical and community information on Gazebo and ROS will continue to live at and, respectively.

Open Robotics will continue to create, distribute, and support open source tools for the robotics community, including ROS and Gazebo. OSRF will continue to hold intellectual property (e.g., copyright on code) on our open work. If you have any questions about the name change, please let us know.

ROSCon 2017: Registration is open http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoroscon-2017-registration-is-open/ Mon, 08 May 2017 21:20:51 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2458 We’re excited to announce that registration for ROSCon 2017 is now open:

Note that the early registration deadline is August 1, 2017.

OSRF Fun Day: May 2017 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoosrf-fun-day-may-2017/ Fri, 05 May 2017 21:48:42 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2447 [Read More]]]> It’s been a while since we took a break to just have some fun together, so we took the whole company out Wednesday to spend the day together. We started in the morning at The Crucible, an amazing industrial arts studio in Oakland. Some of us were making glass fused mosaic tiles:

while others learned MIG welding:

All that work came together into a project that we’ll show off after it’s done cooking in the kiln.

After lunch we headed to San Francisco to flex our brains at an escape room. We’re proud to say that one of our teams successfully escaped. Congratulations to Adam, Chris, Ian, Louise, and Mikael!

We finished the day with a waterfront dinner with a great view of the Bay Bridge:

A good time was had by all.

ROSCon 2017: Call for proposals http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoroscon-2017-call-for-proposals/ Mon, 01 May 2017 23:01:31 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2437 [Read More]]]>
We’re excited to announce that we are now accepting presentation proposals for ROSCon 2017! Please see the call for proposals for more information and then submit your proposal. The deadline is June 25, 2017.

ARIAC Qualifier 3 is open! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoariac-qualifier-3-is-open/ Tue, 18 Apr 2017 01:01:08 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2429 [Read More]]]> We are happy to announce that Qualifier 3 is now open for the Agile Robotics for Industrial Automation Competition (ARIAC)!

ARIAC is a simulation-based competition is designed to promote agility in industrial robot systems by utilizing the latest advances in artificial intelligence and robot planning. The goal is to enable industrial robots on the shop floors to be more productive, more autonomous, and to require less time from shop floor workers. You can learn more about the competition here. The top performing teams will be invited to present at a workshop held during IROS 2017 in Vancouver.

So far we have completed Qualifiers 1 and 2, highlights of which you can see here:

and here:

While the first two Qualifiers are now closed, there’s still time to join the competition. You have until May 15, 2017 to submit your results from Qualifier 3 and secure a spot in the final competition, to be held in early June. To learn how to participate, visit the ARIAC site.

Welcome to Steven! Ragnarok! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshowelcome-to-steven-ragnarok/ Thu, 13 Apr 2017 20:32:30 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2426 [Read More]]]> We’re pleased to welcome Steven! Ragnarok! Steven! is excited to be contributing to the tools, documentation, and infrastructure that power ROS. In the best timeline he’ll be sipping cold brew coffee and writing software with his feet in a stream. If you can’t find him there, check under a tree or at the desk he shares with a cat who hasn’t quite learned the meaning of sharing. His favorite fictional robots are Tom Servo and Robo.

Welcome to Shane Loretz! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshowelcome-to-shane-loretz/ Sat, 04 Feb 2017 00:04:25 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2395 [Read More]]]> We’re pleased to welcome Shane Loretz! Shane is excited to help create open source software that enables others to make the world a better place, or at least make better robots.

He received a Bachelors with honors from SJSU and has continued to educate himself through taking on new challenges. Prior to joining, he was part of a team creating proprietary robots using ROS and Gazebo. When he isn’t typing away at a computer he’s likely hiking or flying RC airplanes.

Save the date: ROSCon 2017 in Vancouver Sep 21-22 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshosave-the-date-roscon-2017-in-vancouver-sep-21-22/ Thu, 02 Feb 2017 23:56:36 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2391 [Read More]]]> Save the date: we’re happy to announce that ROSCon 2017 will be held September 21-22, 2017 at the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, Canada. IROS 2017 will be held at the same venue September 24-28, so plan to attend both of these great events!

Stay tuned for more information on ROSCon 2017.

Welcome to Chris Lalancette! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshowelcome-to-chris-lalancette/ Thu, 02 Feb 2017 01:21:26 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2388 [Read More]]]> We’re happy to welcome Chris Lalancette to the team! Prior to joining OSRF, Chris worked for on both Open Source software and robotics software. He’s excited to combine the spirit of Open Source and the interesting application of robotics at OSRF.

Chris has lived and worked in both the United States and Europe, so has a healthy appreciation for beer from both sides of the Atlantic. When he’s not writing software, you can find him on the ski slopes, paddling his kayak around nearby lakes, or reading a favorite novel.

Celebrating 9 Years of ROS! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshocelebrating-9-years-of-ros/ Wed, 21 Dec 2016 19:04:00 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2374 [Read More]]]> From

This year marks the occasion of ROS turning 9 years old! Through these years ROS has grown into a strong world-wide community. It’s a community with a large variety of interests: from academic researchers to robotic product developers as well as the many robot users. Academic use of ROS continues to grow. Citations of the first ROS paper “ROS: An Open-Source Robot Operating System” has grown to 2,871.

To get a better sense of what’s happening in the ROS community, if you have not already done so, I highly recommend reviewing the ROSCon 2016 program. You can also find all the video recordings in this gallery. ROSCon 2016 was another great event bringing ROS community members together to share how they’re using ROS to solve their challenges. As the goal of ROSCon is to share information between the entire community we record the talks and make them available online. We’ve sold out our venues the last two years and are looking forward to another ROSCon next fall!


Part of understanding our growing community is to try to measure it. For the last 6 years we’ve been generating metrics reports. These reports can give a sense of aggregate what’s happening in the ROS community. Our most recent report is from July 2016. David Lu has put together plots of several of the metrics across the last 6 years which can be quite informative.

This year we wanted to dig a little deeper into the code metrics, so we downloaded the source of all of packages listed in the Indigo Igloo rosdistro and ran some analysis.

  • The total line count is over 14 million lines of code
  • There have been 2477 authors
  • And 181509 commits
  • Averaging 73.3 commits per author

You can see the commits as a function of month in this graph.


Our committers are active around the world as evidenced by the commits coming in at all hours of the day.


And the git commits record 24 different time zones (out of 39 possible).

Analyzing the repository for significant lines of code using [SLOCCount]( shows:

  • 4,077,199 significant lines of code.
  • This represents an estimated 1,236 person-years of development.
  • For a sense of scale, that is an average of 137 developers contributing full time over the last 9 years!

For those of you curious about the breakdown by language lines of code, it is as follows:

  • cpp: 2608592 (63.98%)
  • python: 553332 (13.57%)
  • ansic: 297629 (7.30%)
  • xml: 280615 (6.88%)
  • lisp: 149439 (3.67%)
  • java: 135343 (3.32%)
  • ruby: 26484 (0.65%)
  • sh: 21120 (0.52%)

This only represents the packages publicly released into the Indigo rosdistro index.

Note that the tools only worked on Git repos so code from other source control systems was excluded. There are also a few projects which predate ROS but have ported to use ROS and their history is included.

We’re looking forward to continuing growth through 2017 leading up to the 10-year anniversary of ROS. With the Beta 1 version of ROS 2.0 out, there will be space for new development. We’re looking forward to our next release, Lunar Loggerhead, to coincide with Ubuntu’s next release, Zesty Zapus. With both of these, the ROS community can continue to rely on the many libraries, tools, and capabilities they have come to know and enjoy, as well as begin to experiment with the new features in ROS 2.0

Another exciting project to watch is the upcoming TurtleBot 3! The TurtleBot and TurtleBot 2 have been great platforms for learning and prototyping. However by packing that same capability into a smaller platform with more punch we look forward to it providing another avenue to grow the ROS community.

We write these anniversary posts to help give you a sense of how ROS has been doing over the past year, but we’d certainly encourage you to find out for yourself. Get involved. Write or edit a wiki page. Answer a question on ROS Answers. Come to ROSCon. And, when you’re ready, think about helping to maintain ROS itself, or even contributing a brand new ROS package.

OSRF is doing great, but the long-term success of ROS depends on every member of the incredibly awesome ROS community. If you’re already an active part of the ROS community, we can’t thank you enough; and if you’re not, think about how you can help ROS grow and thrive for the next nine years, and beyond.

ROSCon 2016: The State of ROS is Strong http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoroscon-2016-the-state-of-ros-is-strong/ Tue, 08 Nov 2016 18:47:22 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2339 [Read More]]]> Every year, we’re impressed and humbled by the enthusiastic support we get from the ROS community. This year was certainly no exception. After ROSCon 2015 sold out weeks in advance, we knew we had to find an even larger venue for this year’s conference in Korea. The Conrad Hotel in Seoul turned out to be not quite big enough, however, as ROSCon 2016 sold out anyway. We hosted more than 450 attendees (a 20% increase over last year), 44% of whom came from the Asia Pacific region. Visitors from China now make up the second-largest group accessing the ROS wiki, and five out of the top eight countries using the wiki are in Asia Pacific as well. This level of engagement is one of the reasons we decided to host ROSCon in Korea in the first place, and Asia as a whole is a big part of why ROS package downloads are up by 150% over the last year.

Statistics like these only tell part of the story. What’s more significant for us is how ROS is changing from a way to make robotics research simpler and more collaborative to a foundation that encourages and facilitates a rapidly-maturing robotics industry. Nearly two thirds of ROSCon 2016 participants were from industry (as opposed to academia), and the selection of talks included topics such as calibration, testing, deployment, security, and support of ROS-based robots in operational environments. One highlight was the introduction of H-ROS (Hardware Robot Operating System), which leverages ROS 2 to make hardware from different manufacturers interoperable with a minimum amount of hassle.

Another trend we noticed this year was a substantial and wide-ranging effort at making ROS simpler and more accessible to new users. We had presentations on Gazebo usability upgrades, drones optimized for ROS development, and a new ROS package that lets you visually program robots by moving around graphical blocks. Intel showed up with an all-in-one robotics perception device called Euclid, which is an integrated 3D sensing and computing platform (based on a RealSense camera and Atom processor) that makes sophisticated computer vision easy and affordable. Also introduced at ROSCon 2016 was the Turtlebot 3, a collaboration between OSRF and ROBOTIS, which shrinks the Turtlebot research and education platform down to something backpack-sized while making it more customizable and much more affordable.

We’d also like to highlight a new diversity program that we began this year; one designed to help enable participation in ROSCon by those typically underrepresented in the tech community. We set aside a full 10% of the ROSCon 2016 conference budget to help sixteen roboticists who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to make it to Seoul for the conference. To get a sense of the impact that the diversity program had this year, we’d encourage you to watch this lightning talk from Ahmed Abdalla and Husam Salih, two students at the University of Khartoum in Sudan, who are starting a robotics lab from scratch under severe government sanctions.

Thanks to our fantastic organizing team, all of the ROSCon videos and presentations are already available. You can find them on the ROSCon 2016 website here. We’re already looking forward to ROSCon 2017.

Happy Halloween! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshohappy-halloween-3/ Mon, 31 Oct 2016 21:19:21 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2331 pic1-50

Another year, another collection of creative and sometimes topical costumes. Happy Halloween, everybody!

Goodbye, ROSCon 2016 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshogoodbye-roscon-2016/ Mon, 10 Oct 2016 05:27:16 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2317 [Read More]]]> Following an exciting weekend, we bid farewell to ROSCon 2016 in Seoul. It was record-breaking in every way, with over 450 attendees and a 60% increase over last year in sponsorship. Thanks to everyone for coming and for your support! Stay tuned for details on the next event. We anticipate posting videos of the presentations by October 20.


Photo credit: Evan Ackerman

Bosch Research and Technology Center Joins Forces with Open Source Robotics Foundation to Advance the Development of ROS http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshobosch-research-and-technology-center-joins-forces-with-open-source-robotics-foundation-to-advance-the-development-of-ros/ Fri, 07 Oct 2016 23:18:20 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2313 [Read More]]]> Bosch Underwrites Full-Time Developer for ROS 2 Research

A full-time developer sponsored by Bosch’s Research and Technology Center in North America will begin working with Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF) this month to advance the development of Robotics Open Source 2, the two organizations announced today. This announcement not only demonstrates the mutual commitment of Bosch and OSRF to the development of ROS 2 but also to the worldwide community of ROS developers and supporters.

ROS 2 is the next generation of ROS, a set of libraries and tools that simplify the task of creating and programming robotic platforms and applications. An update on ROS 2 will be made by Deanna Hood and William Woodall at ROSCon, the upcoming developer conference October 8-9 in Seoul, Korea.

“The development of ROS has been a collaborative effort from the beginning, and we are thrilled to continue that tradition with the support of Bosch,” said Brian Gerkey, CEO of Open Source Robotics Foundation. “We look forward to welcoming our newest ROS 2 team member.”

“We are honored to be a part of the movement that’s helping developers to create groundbreaking robotics technologies for industries all over the world,” said Axel Wendt, group manager for Robotics at the Research and Technology Center in Palo Alto. “This partnership delivers on our objective to cultivate and to drive innovation from the ground up.”

“The collaboration with OSRF is well aligned with our worldwide efforts in robotics research at Bosch,” said Kai Arras, head of robotics research at Robert Bosch GmbH. “We are glad to contribute back to the open source community in this way and look forward to new, exciting features of ROS 2 that are relevant to the industry.”

We’re collaborating with the Toyota Research Institute http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshowere-collaborating-with-toyota-research-institute/ Thu, 15 Sep 2016 16:19:37 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2281 [Read More]]]> You can see more formal announcements from us here and from Toyota Research Institute here, but we are very pleased to announce our new relationship with TRI. TRI is the R&D arm of Toyota. TRI has contracted with us to help develop and grow ROS and Gazebo. In addition, TRI has made a $1 million donation to OSRF.

The CEO of TRI, Gill Pratt, is very familiar with us and our work, including our contributions to the DARPA Robotics Challenge, for which he was the program manager.

As Gill says in our release:

I’ve witnessed first-hand the value of the Open Source Robotics Foundation. Of the twenty-three teams that competed in the DARPA Robotics Challenge eighteen used ROS and fourteen used Gazebo. Through this charitable contribution, TRI will support efforts to grow the capabilities of ROS and Gazebo, not only for TRI, but also for the hundreds of thousands of members of the open source robotics community.

Part of today’s announcement also includes the news that we have created the Open Source Robotics Corporation, a for-profit subsidiary of OSRF. We will continue to create and distribute open source and free-of-charge applications for the robotics community, including ROS and Gazebo. If you have specific questions about our reorganization, please let us know.

HAPTIX: Simulation of prosthetic devices http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshohaptix-simulation-of-prosthetic-devices/ Thu, 25 Aug 2016 16:33:37 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2250 [Read More]]]> Fundamentally, robotics is about helping people. Robots help us manufacture things, help us build things, and help make our lives easier and more convenient. As robotic systems increase in sophistication and capability, they’re starting to help people more directly, in elder care, rehabilitation centers, and hospitals. In the near future, robotics will become even more tightly integrated with humanity, to the point where cybernetics will be able to restore function to people with disabilities. In particular, amputee military personnel are the focus of one such program.

In 2014, DARPA announced its Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) program, which “seeks to create a prosthetic hand system that moves and provides sensation like a natural hand.”

According to Doug Weber, DARPA program manager of HAPTIX: “We believe that HAPTIX will create a sensory experience so rich and vibrant that the user will want to wear his or her prosthesis full-time and accept it as a natural extension of the body. If we can achieve that, DARPA is even closer to fulfilling its commitment to help restore full and natural functionality to wounded service members.”

Three different teams are involved in the HAPTIX project, and its success will depend on a carefully optimized mix of hardware, user interfaces, and control algorithms. OSRF is proud to be providing a customized version of the Gazebo simulator to the HAPTIX teams, allowing them to run tests on their software without being constrained by hardware availability: essentially, a kind of virtual playground for software engineers.

“The goal of HAPTIX is for OSRF to provide a realistic prosthetic simulation environment for biomechanical engineers to develop controllers for advanced prosthetics with high degrees of freedom,” explains John Hsu, co-founder and Chief Scientist at OSRF. The advanced prosthesis that DARPA is using in the HAPTIX program is DEKA’s “Luke” robotic arm, a 14 DoF cybernetic total arm replacement system. However, the arm is currently controlled by simple user interfaces designed for testing, and part of what HAPTIX hopes to deliver are interfaces that utilize control signals from muscles and nerves, while simultaneously delivering sensory feedback.

After nearly ten years of work and $40 million from DARPA, DEKA’s robotic arm is an amazing piece of hardware, but that’s just the beginning. “The hardware, in my opinion, needs to come before the software,” says Hsu. “They can be designed at the same time, but the hardware has a longer iteration cycle. Once you develop a nice hardware platform that’s stable, then you give it to the software team, and they take off, working really fast on the software while in the meantime trying not to break the hardware.”

This illustrates two reasons why having a good simulation environment is important: first, it lets you start working on the software before the hardware is fully complete, and second, it to some extent insulates software development from the hardware itself, meaning that you can have lots of engineers developing software in parallel, even if you only have one piece of hardware that may be fragile, expensive, and quite often inoperable for one reason or another.

For OSRF, creating and supporting a version of Gazebo for the HAPTIX program involves many different areas. Besides the customized simulation environment, OSRF has also provided teams with an OptiTrack motion capture device, NVIDIA stereo glasses and a 3D monitor, a 3D joystick, and the documentation required to get it all working together flawlessly. This custom version of Gazebo also includes support for a variety of teleoperation hardware, and for the first time, users can interact programmatically with the simulation using both Windows and MATLAB. HAPTIX developers can leverage these 3D sensors and teleoperation systems to translate the motions of physical arms and hands into virtual environments, allowing them to run common hand function tests in the real world and in simulation at the same time. This also lays the foundation for a framework that could provide amputees a powerful and affordable way to learn how to use their new prosthesis.

Once the HAPTIX teams receive their DEKA arms, OSRF’s job becomes even more important, according to Hsu, because they’ll get a chance to see how well the simulation is actually working and then refine it to bring it as close to reality as possible. “I’m really looking forward to the validation part,” Hsu says. “I think that’s one of the big missing pieces for many simulation platforms: good validation data. When we were working on Gazebo for the DARPA Robotics Challenge, we never had an ATLAS robot. Getting the DEKA hand to do validation is huge.”

Validation is the process of making sure that commands sent to the simulated DEKA arm result in the same movements as identical commands sent to the real DEKA arm. “We send commands to the real hand and the simulated hand to see if they behave differently,” explains Hsu. “If they do, we update our model to make them match.” The closer the simulation matches, the more useful it will be to the HAPTIX teams. The end goal is, of course, to get everything working on the real hardware, but an accurate and detailed simulator is critical to the development of effective software.

The first generation of the DEKA arm recently arrived at OSRF for validation testing, and the complete hardware is expected before the end of the year. OSRF has been steadily releasing a series of stable versions of the HAPTIX simulator, and as the fidelity of simulated position holding, force control and response, and other dynamics are verified on the arm over the next few months, OSRF will continue upgrading the simulation software to make sure that the HAPTIX teams have all of the tools that they need to progress as quickly and efficiently as possible.

By early 2017, Phase 1 of HAPTIX will be complete, and the software and hardware components that prove to be the most successful will continue into Phase 2, the end goal of which is a complete, functional HAPTIX system. DARPA is hoping that take-home trials of such a system will happen by 2019, and that soon after, any amputee who needs one will be able to benefit from a prosthetic hand that acts (and feels) just like the real thing.

ROS at the Intel Developer Forum http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoros-at-the-intel-developer-forum/ Fri, 12 Aug 2016 23:07:08 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2244 [Read More]]]> Next week is the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

If you know anything about ROS and robots, then by now you know about the integration between ROS and Intel’s RealSense Camera.

Given this relationship, you can expect to see and hear a lot about ROS next week at IDF.

We encourage you to check out these sessions next week in San Francisco:

Michael Ferguson (Fetch Robotics): Accelerating Your Robotics Startup with ROS http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshomichael-ferguson-fetch-robotics-accelerating-your-robotics-startup-with-ros/ Fri, 01 Jul 2016 10:00:02 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2234 [Read More]]]> Michael Ferguson spent a year as a software engineer at Willow Garage, helping rewrite the ROS calibration system, among other projects. In 2013, he co-founded Unbounded Robotics, and is currently the CTO of Fetch Robotics. At Fetch, Michael is one of the primary people responsible for making sure that Fetch’s robots reliably fetch things. Mike’s ROSCon talk is about how to effectively use ROS as an integral part of your robotics business, including best practices, potential issues to avoid, and how you should handle open source and intellectual property.

Because of how ROS works, much of your software development (commercial or otherwise) is dependent on many external packages. These packages are constantly being changed for the better — and sometimes for the worse — at unpredictable intervals that are completely out of your control. Using continuous integration, consisting of systems that can handle automated builds, testing, and deployment, can help you catch new problems as early as possible. Michael also shares that a useful way to avoid new problems is to not immediately switch over to new software as soon as they are available: instead, stick with long-term support releases, such as Ubuntu 14.04 and ROS Indigo.

While the foundation of ROS is built on open source, using ROS doesn’t mean that all of the software magic that you create for your robotics company has to be given away for free. ROS supports many different kinds of licenses, some of which your lawyers will be more happy with than others, but there are enough options with enough flexibility that it doesn’t have to be an issue. Using Fetch Robotics as an example, Mike discusses what components of ROS his company uses in their commercial products, including ROS Navigation and MoveIt. With these established packages as a base, Fetch was able to quickly put together operational demos, and then iterate on an operating platform by developing custom plugins optimized for their specific use cases.

When considering how to use ROS as part of your company, it’s important to look closely at the packages you decide to incorporate, to make sure that they have a friendly license, good documentation, recent updates, built-in tests, and a standardized interface. Keeping track of all of this will make your startup life easier in the long run. As long as you’re careful, relying on ROS can make your company more agile, more productive, and ready to make a whole bunch of money off of the future of robotics.

Next up: Ryan Gariepy (Clearpath Robotics)

ROSCon 2016: Proposal deadline July 8th and venue information http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoroscon-2016-proposal-deadline-july-8th-and-venue-information/ Tue, 28 Jun 2016 22:47:03 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2230 [Read More]]]> With just over 3 months to go before ROSCon 2016, we have some important announcements:

* The deadline for submitting presentation proposals is July 8, 2016. If you want to present your work at ROSCon this year, make sure to submit your proposal before the deadline:
* The conference will be held at the Conrad Seoul. Hotel rooms at the discounted conference rate are limited! Reserve your room today. Also listed are some options for child care during the conference, which we hope will be helpful for attendees traveling with families.
* Registration will open in a couple of weeks:

We can’t put on ROSCon without the support of our generous sponsors, who now include Clearpath Robotics, Southwest Research Institute, GaiTech, and ARM!

We’d like to especially thank our Platinum and Gold Sponsors: Fetch Robotics, Clearpath Robotics, Intel, Southwest Research Institute, and Yujin Robot.

Moritz Tenorth (Magazino): Maru and Toru — Item-Specific Logistics Solutions Based on ROS http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshomoritz-tenorth-magazino-maru-and-toru-item-specific-logistics-solutions-based-on-ros/ Fri, 24 Jun 2016 17:56:57 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2224 [Read More]]]> It’s not sexy, but the next big thing for robots is starting to look like warehouse logistics. The potential market is huge, and a number of startups are developing mobile platforms to automate dull and tedious order fulfillment tasks. Transporting products is just one problem worth solving: picking those products off of shelves is another. Magazino is a German startup that’s developing a robot called Toru that can grasp individual objects off of warehouse shelves, a particularly tricky task that Magazino is tackling with ROS.

Moritz Tenorth is Head of Software Development at Magazino. In his ROSCon talk, Moritz describes Magazino’s Toru as “a mobile pick and place robot that works together with humans in a shared environment,” which is exactly what you’d want in an e-commerce warehouse. The reason that picking is a hard problem, as Moritz explains, is perception coupled with dynamic environments and high uncertainty: if you want a robot that can pick a wide range of objects, it needs to be able to flexibly understand and react to its environment; something that robots are notoriously bad at. ROS is particularly well suited to this, since it’s easy to intelligently integrate as much sensing as you need into your platform.

Magazino’s experience building and deploying their robots has given them a unique perspective on warehouse commercialization with ROS. For example, databases and persistent storage are crucial (as opposed to a focus on runtime), and real-time control turns out to be less important than being able to quickly and easily develop planning algorithms and reducing system complexity. Software components in the ROS ecosystem can vary wildly in quality and upkeep, although ROS-Industrial is working hard to develop code quality metrics. Magazino is also working on remote support and analysis tools, and trying to determine how much communication is required in a multi-robot system, which native ROS isn’t very good at.

Even with those (few) constructive criticisms in mind, Magazino says that ROS is a fantastic way to quickly iterate on both software and hardware in parallel, especially when combined with 3D printed prototypes for testing. Most importantly, Magazino feels comfortable with ROS: it has a familiar workflow, versatile build system, flexible development architecture, robust community that makes hiring a cinch, and it’s still (somehow) easy to use.

Next up: Michael Ferguson (Fetch Robotics)

Tom Moore: Working with the Robot Localization Package http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshotom-moore-working-with-the-robot-localization-package/ Fri, 17 Jun 2016 18:04:50 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2221 [Read More]]]> Clearpath Robotics is best known for building yellow and black robots that are the research platforms you’d build for yourself; that is, if it wasn’t much easier to just get them from Clearpath Robotics. All of their robots run ROS, and Clearpath has been heavily involved in the ROS community for years. Now with Locus Robotics, Tom Moore spent seven months as an autonomy developer at Clearpath. He is the author and maintainer of the robot_localization ROS package, and gave a presentation about it at ROSCon 2015.

robot_localization is a general purpose state estimation package that’s used to give you (and your robot) an accurate sense of where it is and what it’s doing, based on input from as many sensors as you want. The more sensors that you’re able to use for a state estimate, the better that estimate is going to be, especially if you’re dealing with real-worldish things like unreliable GPS or hardware that flakes out on you from time to time. robot_localization has been specifically designed to be able to handle cases like these, in an easy to use and highly customizable way. It has state estimation in 3D space, gives you per-sensor message control, allows for an unlimited number of sensors (just in case you have 42 IMUs and nothing better to do), and more.

Tom’s ROSCon talk takes us through some typical use cases for robot_localization, describes where the package fits in with the ROS navigation stack, explains how to prepare your sensor data, and how to configure estimation nodes for localization. The talk ends with a live(ish) demo, followed by a quick tutorial on how to convert data from your GPS into your robot’s world frame.

The robot_localization package is up to date and very well documented, and you can learn more about it on the ROS Wiki.

Next up: Moritz Tenorth, Ulrich Klank, & Nikolas Engelhard (Magazino GmbH)

Matt Vollrath and Wojciech Ziniew (End Point): ROS-Driven User Applications in Idempotent Environments http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshomatt-vollrath-and-wojciech-ziniew-end-point-ros-driven-user-applications-in-idempotent-environments/ Fri, 10 Jun 2016 08:00:34 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2217 [Read More]]]> Matt Vollrath and Wojciech Ziniew work at an ecommerce consultancy called End Point, where they provide support for Liquid Galaxy; a product that’s almost as cool as it sounds. Originally an open source project begun by Google engineers on their twenty percent time, Liquid Galaxy is a data visualization system consisting of a collection of large vertical displays that wrap around you horizontally. The displays show an immersive (up to 270°) image that’s ideal for data presentations, virtual tours, Google Earth, or anywhere you want a visually engaging environment. Think events, trade shows, offices, museums, galleries, and the like.

Last year, End Point decided to take all of the ad hoc services and protocols that they’d been using to support Liquid Galaxy and move everything over to ROS. The primary reason to do this was ROS support for input devices: you can use just about anything to control a Liquid Galaxy display system, from basic touchscreens to Space Navigator 3D mice to Leap Motions to depth cameras. The modularity of ROS is inherently friendly to all kinds of different hardware.

Check out this week’s ROSCon15 video as Matt and Wojciech take a deep dive into their efforts in bringing ROS to bear for these unique environments.

Next up: Tom Moore (Clearpath Robotics)

Jerry Towler (SwRI): Mapviz – An Extensible 2D Visualization Tool for Automated Vehicles http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshojerry-towler-swri-mapviz-an-extensible-2d-visualization-tool-for-automated-vehicles/ Fri, 03 Jun 2016 11:30:38 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2206 [Read More]]]> ROS already comes with a fantastic built-in visualization tool called rviz, so why would you want to use anything else? At Southwest Research Institute, Jerry Towler explains how they’ve created a new visualization tool called Mapviz that’s specifically designed for the kind of large-scale outdoor environments necessary for autonomous vehicle development. Specifically, Mapviz is able to integrate all of the sensor data that you need on top of a variety of two-dimensional maps, such as road maps or satellite imagery.

As an autonomous vehicle visualization tool, Mapviz works just like you’d expect that it would, which Jerry demonstrated with several demos at ROSCon. Mapviz shows you a top-down view of where your vehicle is, and tracks it across a basemap that seamlessly pulls image tiles at multiple resolutions from a wide variety of local or networked map servers, including Open MapQuest and Bing Maps. Mapviz is, of course, very plugin-friendly. You can add things like stereo disparity feeds, GPS fixes, odometry, grids, pathing data, image overlays, projected laser scans, markers (including textured markers) from most sensor types, and more. It can’t really handle three dimensional data (although it’ll do two-and-a-half dimensions via color gradients), but for interactive tracking of your vehicle’s navigation and path planning behavior, Mapviz should offer most of what you need.

For a variety of non-technical reasons, SwRI hasn’t been able to release all of its tools and plugins as open source quite yet, but they’re working on getting approval as fast as they can. They’re also in the process of developing even more enhancements for Mapviz, and you can keep up to date with the latest version of the software on GitHub.

Next up: Matt Vollrath & Wojciech Ziniewicz (End Point)

Michael Aeberhard (BMW): Automated Driving with ROS at BMW http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshomichael-aeberhard-bmw-automated-driving-with-ros-at-bmw/ Tue, 31 May 2016 16:33:45 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2201 [Read More]]]> BMW has been working on automated driving for the last decade, steadily implementing more advanced features ranging from emergency stop assistance and autonomous highway driving to fully automated valet parking and 360° collision avoidance. Several of these projects were presented at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, and as it turns out, the cars were running ROS for both environment detection and planning.

BMW, being BMW, has no problem getting new research hardware. Their latest development platform is the 335I G. This model comes with an advanced driver assistance system based around cameras and radar. The car has been outfitted with four low-profile laser scanners and one long-range radar, but otherwise, it’s pretty close (in terms of hardware) to what’s available in production BMWs.

Why did BMW choose to move from their internally developed software architecture to ROS? Michael explains how ROS’ reputation in the robotics research community prompted his team to give it a try, and they were impressed with its open source nature, distributed architecture, existing selection of software packages, as well as its helpful community. “A large user base means stability and reliability,” Michael says, “because somebody else probably already solved the problem you’re having.” Additionally, using ROS rather than a commercial software platform makes it much easier for BMW to cooperate with universities and research institutions.

Michael discusses the ROS software architecture that BMW is using to do its autonomous car development, and shows how the software interprets the sensor data to identify obstacles and lane markings and do localization and trajectory planning to enable full highway autonomy, based on a combination of lane keeping and dynamic cruise control. BMW also created their own suite of RQT and rviz plugins specifically designed for autonomous vehicle development.

After about two years of experience with ROS, BMW likes a lot of things about it, but Michael and his team do have some constructive criticisms: message transport needs more work (although ROS 2 should help with this), managing configurations for different robots is problematic, and it’s difficult to enforce compliance with industry standards like ISO and AUTOSAR, which will be necessary for software that’s usable in production vehicles.

Next up: Jerry Towler & Marc Alban (SwRI)

Amit Moran (Intel): Introducing ROS-RealSense: 3D Empowered Robotics Innovation Platform http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoamit-moran-intel-introducing-ros-realsense-3d-empowered-robotics-innovation-platform/ Fri, 20 May 2016 08:00:38 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2192 [Read More]]]> While Intel is best known for making computer processors, the company is also interested in how people interact with all of the computing devices that have Intel inside. In other words, Intel makes brains, but they need senses to enable those brains to understand the world around them. Intel has developed two very small and very cheap 3D cameras (one long range and one short range) called RealSense, with the initial intent of putting them into devices like laptops and tablets for applications such as facial recognition and gesture tracking.

Robots are also in dire need of capable and affordable 3D sensors for navigation and object recognition, and fortunately, Intel understands this, and they’ve created the RealSense Robotics Innovation Program to help drive innovation using their hardware. Intel itself isn’t a robotics company, but as Amit explains in his ROSCon talk, they want to be a part of the robotics future, which is why they prioritized ROS integration for their RealSense cameras.

A RealSense ROS package has been available since 2015, and Intel has been listening to feedback from roboticists and steadily adding more features. The package provides access to the RealSense camera data (RGB, depth, IR, and point cloud), and will eventually include basic computer vision functions (including plane analysis and blob detection) as well as more advanced functions like skeleton tracking, object recognition, and localization and mapping tools.

Intel RealSense 3D camera developer kits are available now, and you can order one for as little as $99.

Next up: Michael Aeberhard, Thomas Kühbeck, Bernhard Seidl, et al. (BMW Group Research and Technology)
Check out last week’s post: The Descartes Planning Library for Semi-Constrained Cartesian Trajectories

Shaun Edwards (SwRI): The Descartes Planning Library for Semi-Constrained Cartesian Trajectories http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoshaun-edwards-swri-the-descartes-planning-library-for-semi-constrained-cartesian-trajectories/ Fri, 13 May 2016 08:00:10 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2188 [Read More]]]> Descartes is a path planning library that’s designed to solve the problem of planning with semi-constrained trajectories. Semi-constrained means that the degrees of freedom of the path you need to plan are fewer than the degrees of freedom that your robot has. In other words, when planning a path, there are one or more “free” axes that your robot has to work with that can be moved any which way without disrupting the path. This can open up the planning space if you can utilize them creatively, which traditional robots (especially in the industrial space) usually can’t. This results in reduced workspaces and (most dangerous of all) increased reliance on human intuition during the planning process.

Descartes was designed to generate common sense plans, exhibiting similar characteristics to paths planned by a human. It can solve easy problems quickly, and difficult problems eventually, integrating hybrid trajectories and dynamic replanning. It’s easy to use, with a GUI that allows you to quickly set anchor points that the robot replans around, with visual confirmation of the new path. The second half of Shaun’s ROSCon talk is an in-depth explanation of Descartes’ interfaces and implementations intended for path planning fans (you know who you are).

As with many (if not most) of the projects being presented at ROSCon, Descartes is open source, and all of the development is public. If you’d like to try it out, the current stable release runs on ROS Hydro, and a tutorial is available on the ROS Wiki to help you get started.

Next up: Amit Moran & Gila Kamhi (Intel)
Check out last week’s post: Phobos — Robot Model Development on Steroids

Kai von Szadkowski (University of Bremen): Phobos — Robot Model Development on Steroids http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshokai-von-szadkowski-university-of-bremen-phobos-robot-model-development-on-steroids/ Fri, 06 May 2016 19:11:37 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2185 [Read More]]]> To model a robot in rviz, you first need to create what’s called a Unified Robot Description Format (URDF) file, which is an XML-formatted text file that represents the physical configuration of your robot. Fundamentally, it’s not that hard to create a URDF file, but for complex robots, these files tend to be enormously complicated and very tedious to put together. At the University of Bremen, Kai von Szadkowski was tasked with developing a URDF model for a 60 degrees of freedom robot called MANTIS (Multi-legged Manipulation and Locomotion System). Kai got a bit fed up with the process and developed a better way of doing it, called Phobos.




Phobos is an add-on for a piece of free and open-source 3D modeling and rendering software called Blender. Using Blender, you can create armatures, which are essentially kinematic skeletons that you can use to animate a 3D character. As it turns out, there are some convenient parallels between URDF models and 3D models in Blender: the links and joints in a URDF file equate to armatures and bones in Blender, and both use similar hierarchical structures to describe their models. Phobos adds a new toolbar to Blender that makes it easy to edit these models by adding links, motors, sensors, and collision geometries. You can also leverage Blender’s Python scripting environment to automate as much of the process as you’d like. Additionally, Phobos comes with a sort of “robot dictionary” in Python that manages all of the exporting to URDF for you.


Since the native URDF format can’t handle all of the information that can be incorporated into your model in Blender, Kai proposes an extended version of URDF called SMURF (Supplemental Mostly Universal Robot Format) that adds YAML files to a URDF, supporting annotations for sensor, motors, and anything else you’d like to include.


If any of this sounds good to you, it’s easy to try it out: Blender is available for free, and Phobos can be found on GitHub.

Mirko Bordignon (Fraunhofer IPA) and Shaun Edwards (SwRI): Bringing ROS to the Factory Floor http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshomirko-bordignon-fraunhofer-ipa-and-shaun-edwards-swri-bringing-ros-to-the-factory-floor/ Fri, 29 Apr 2016 08:00:38 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2182 [Read More]]]> The ROS Industrial Consortium was established four years ago as a partnership between Yaskawa Motoman Robotics, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Willow Garage, and Fraunhofer IPA. The idea was to provide a ROS-based open-source framework for robotics applications, designed to make it easy (or at least possible) to leverage advanced ROS capabilities (like perception and planning) in industrial environments. Basically, ROS-I adds models, libraries, drivers, and packages to ROS that are specifically designed for manufacturing automation, with a focus on code quality and end user reliability.

Mirko Bordignon from Fraunhofer IPA opened the final ROSCon 2016 keynote by pointing out that ROS is still heavily focused on research and service robotics. This isn’t a bad thing, but with a little help, there’s an enormous opportunity for ROS to transform industrial robotics as well. Over the past few years. The ROS Industrial Consortium has grown into two international consortia (one in America and one in Europe), comprising over thirty members that provide financial and managerial support to the ROS-I community.

To help companies get more comfortable with the idea of using ROS in their robots, ROS-I holds frequent training sessions and other outreach events. “People out there are realizing that at least they can’t ignore ROS, and that they actually might benefit from it,” Bordignon says. And companies are benefiting from it, with ROS starting to show up in a variety of different industries in the form of factory floor deployments as well as products.

Bordignon highlights a few of the most interesting projects that the ROS-I community is working on at the moment, including a CAD to ROS workbench, getting ROS to work on PLCs, and integrating the OPC data protocol, which is common to many industrial systems.

Before going into deeper detail on ROS-I’s projects, Shaun Edwards from SwRI talks about how the fundamental idea for a ROS-I consortium goes back to one of their first demos. The demo was of a PR2 using 3D perception and intelligent path planning to pick up objects off of a table. “[Companies were] impressed by what they saw at Willow Garage, but they didn’t make the connection: that they could leverage that work,” Edwards explains. SwRI then partnered with Yaskawa to get the same software running on an industrial arm, “and this alone really sold industry on ROS being something to pay attention to,” says Edwards.

Since 2014, ROS-I has been refining a general purpose Calibration Toolbox for industrial robots. The goal is to streamline an otherwise time-consuming (and annoying) calibration process. This toolbox covers robot-to-camera calibration (with both stationary and mobile cameras), as well as camera-to-camera calibration. Over the next few months, ROS-I will be releasing templates for common calibration use cases to make it as easy as possible.

Path planning is another ongoing ROS-I project, as is ROS support for CANOpen devices (to enable IoT-type networking), and integrated motion planning for mobile manipulators. ROS-I actually paid the developers of the ROS mobile manipulation stack to help with this. “Leveraging the community this way, and even paying the community, is a really good thing, and I’d like to see more of it,” Edwards says.

To close things out, Edwards briefly touches on the future of ROS-I, including the seamless fusion of 3D scanning, intelligent planning, and dynamic manipulation, which is already being sponsored by Boeing and Caterpillar. If you’d like to get involved in ROS-I, they’d love for you to join them, and even if you’re not directly interested in industrial robotics, there are still plenty of opportunities to be part of a more inclusive and collaborative ROS ecosystem.

Next up: Kai von Szadkowski (University of Bremen)
Check out last week’s post: MoveIt! Strengths, Weaknesses, and Developer Insight

Dave Coleman (University of Colorado Boulder): MoveIt! Strengths, Weaknesses, and Developer Insight http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshodave-coleman-university-of-colorado-boulder-moveit-strengths-weaknesses-and-developer-insight/ Fri, 22 Apr 2016 19:17:28 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2169 [Read More]]]> Dave Coleman has worked in (almost) every robotics lab there is: Willow Garage, JSK Humanoids Lab in Tokyo, Google, UC Boulder, and (of course) OSRF. He’s also the owner of PickNik, a ROS consultancy that specializes in training robots to destructively put packages of Oreo cookies on shelves. Dave has been working on MoveIt! since before it was first released, and to kick off the second day of ROSCon, he gave a keynote to share everything he knows about motion planning in ROS.

MoveIt! is a flexible and robot agnostic motion planning framework that integrates manipulation, 3D perception, kinematics, control, and navigation. It’s a collaboration between lots of people across many different organizations, and is the third most popular ROS package with a fast-growing community of contributors. It’s simple to set up and use, and for beginners, a plugin lets you easily move your robot around in Rviz.

As a MoveIt! pro, Dave offers a series of pro tips on how to get the most out of your motion planner. For example, he suggests that researchers try using C++ classes individually to avoid getting buried in a bunch of layered services and actions. This makes it easier to figure out why your code doesn’t work. Dave also describes his experience in the Amazon Picking Challenge, held last year at ICRA in Seattle.

MoveIt! is great, but there’s still a lot of potential for improvement. Dave discusses some of the things that he’d like to see, including better reliability (and more communicative failures), grasping support, and, as always, more documentation and better tutorials. A recent MoveIt! community meeting resulted in a future roadmap that focuses on better humanoid kinematic support and support for other types of planners, as well as integrated visual servoing and easy access to calibration packages.

Dave ends with a reminder that progress is important, even if it’s often at odds with stability. Breaking changes are sometimes necessary in order to add valuable features to the code. As with much of ROS, MoveIt! depends on the ROS community to keep it capable and relevant. If you’re an expert in one of the components that makes MoveIt! so useful, you should definitely consider contributing back with a plug-in from which others can take advantage.

Next up: Mirko Bordignon (Fraunhofer IPA), Shaun Edwards (SwRI), Clay Flannigan (SwRI), et al.
Check out last week’s post: Real-time Performance in ROS 2

Jackie Kay (OSRF): Real-time Performance in ROS 2 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshojackie-kay-osrf-real-time-performance-in-ros-2/ Fri, 15 Apr 2016 08:00:57 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2164 [Read More]]]> Jackie Kay was upgraded from OSRF intern to full-time software engineer in 2014. Her background includes robotics education and path planning for autonomous lunar rovers. More recently, she’s been working on bringing real-time computing to ROS 2.

Real-time computing isn’t about computing at a certain speed— it’s about computing on schedule. It means that your system can return data reliably and on time, in situations where responding late is usually bad thing; and sometimes a really bad thing. Hard real-time computing is important in safety critical applications (like nuclear reactors, spacecraft, and autonomous vehicles), when taking too long thinking about something could result in a figurative or literal crash — or both. Soft real-time computing is a bit more forgiving, in that things running behind have a cost, but the data are still usable, as with packets arriving out of order while streaming video. And in between there’s firm real-time computing, where missing deadlines is definitely bad but nothing explodes (or things only explode a little bit), like on a robotic assembly line.

Making a system that’s adaptable and reliable, especially in the context of commercialization, often requires real-time computing, and this is why integrating real-time compatibility is one of the primary goals of ROS 2. Jackie’s keynote addresses many of the technical details underlying the ROS 2 real-time approach, including scheduling, memory management, node design, and communications strategies. To illustrate the improvements that ROS 2 has over ROS, Jackie shares benchmarking results of a ROS 2 demo running in real-time, showing that even under stress, implementing a high performance soft real-time system in ROS 2 looks promising.

To try real-time computing in ROS 2 for yourself, you can download an Alpha release and play around with a demo here:

ROSCon 2015 Hamburg: Day 1 – Jackie Kay: Real-time Performance in ROS 2 from OSRF on Vimeo.

Next up: Dave Coleman (University of Colorado Boulder)
Check out last week’s post: State of ROS 2

Dirk Thomas, Esteve Fernandez, and William Woodall (OSRF): State of ROS 2 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshodirk-thomas-esteve-fernandez-and-william-woodall-osrf-state-of-ros-2/ Mon, 11 Apr 2016 17:31:38 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2157 [Read More]]]> ROS has been an enormously important resource for the robotics community. It turned eight years old at the end of 2015, and is currently on its ninth official release. As ROS adoption has skyrocketed (especially over the past several years), OSRF, together with the community, have identified many specific areas of the operating system that need major overhauls in order to keep pace with maturing user demand. Dirk Thomas, Esteve Fernandez, and William Woodall from OSRF gave a preview at ROSCon 2015 of what to expect in ROS 2, including multi-robot systems, commercial deployments, microprocessor compatibility, real time control, and additional platform support.

The OSRF team shows off many of the exciting new ROS 2 features in this demo-heavy talk, including distributed message passing through DDS (no ROS master required), performance boosts for communications within nodes, quality of service improvements, and ways of bridging ROS 1 and ROS 2 so that you don’t have to make the leap all at once. If you’d like to make the leap all at once anyway, the Alpha 1 release of ROS 2 has been available since last September, and Thomas ends the talk with a brief overview of the roadmap leading up to ROS 2’s Alpha 2 release. As of April 2016, ROS 2 is on release Alpha 5 (“Epoxy”), and you can keep up-to-date on the roadmap and release schedule here.

ROSCon 2015 Hamburg: Day 1 – Dirk Thomas: State of ROS 2 – demos and the technology behind from OSRF on Vimeo.

Next up: Jackie Kay (OSRF) & Adolfo Rodríguez Tsouroukdissian (PAL Robotics)
Check out last week’s post: Lightning Talk highlights

The Robotics Revolution is Open Source http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshothe-robotics-revolution-is-open-source/ Tue, 05 Apr 2016 23:42:35 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2153 [Read More]]]> OSRF Software Engineer Louise Poubel was recently asked to write an article about her upcoming presentation at the IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference on open source robotics for Scientific Computing magazine. Check out the excerpt, below.

These are exciting times for robotics. In the past few years, we’ve started seeing robotic products make their way into our daily lives. We’re buying robotic vacuum cleaners and toy quadcopters. If you’re lucky enough, you’ve seen a robot dancing at a presentation, had a robot give you information at a store, or received a robot delivery at a hotel. Things that seemed like science fiction just a few years ago are looking like they could become reality in our lifetimes. We can more clearly see a future with package delivery drones and self-driving cars.

The complete post is here.

ROSCon 2016 location announced! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoroscon-2016-location-announced/ Fri, 01 Apr 2016 19:13:37 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2148 [Read More]]]> From

Today may be April 1st, but this is no April Fools’ Joke: ROSCon 2016 will take place in Seoul, South Korea between October 8th and 9th! We’re very excited to get the ROS community together again to share all of the exciting work that has happened over the last year. ROSCon will directly precede IROS, which is in nearby Daejeon, Korea this year. If you’re already planning to attend IROS, just tack on a couple extra days and join us in Seoul!

Stay tuned to the ROSCon 2016 website for updates and submission deadlines. We look forward to seeing you in Seoul later this year!

ROSCon: Lightning Talk Highlights http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoroscon-lightening-talk-highlights/ Fri, 01 Apr 2016 08:00:05 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2138 [Read More]]]> The growing popularity of ROSCon means that it’s not always possible to schedule presentations for everyone that wants to give one. In addition, many people have projects that they’d like to share, but don’t need a full twenty minutes to present. That’s why forty minutes of each day at ROSCon are set aside for any attendee to present anything they want; all in a heartlessly rigid three-minutes-or-less format. Here are a few highlights:

Talk 1 (00:05 — 02:15) Víctor Mayoral Vilches, Erle Robotics

Victor is the CTO and co-founder of Erle Robotics. The Erle-Brain 2 is an open source, open hardware controller for robots based on the Raspberry Pi 2. It runs ROS, will support ROS 2, and can be used as the brain for all kinds of different robots, including the Erle Spider, a slightly misnamed hexapod that you can buy for €599.

Talk 3 (06:55 — 10:00): Andreas Bihlmaier, KIT

Andreas works on robot-assisted surgery using ROS at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. KIT has a futuristic operating room full of robots and sensors designed to help human doctors and nurses through positional tracking, augmented reality, and direct robotic assistance. Andreas is also interested in collaborating with people on ROS Medical, which doesn’t exist yet but has a really cool logo anyway.

Talk 10 (29:20 — 31:30) Jochen Sprickerhof, Universitat Osnabrück

Through the efforts of Jochen Sprickerhof and Leopold Avellaneda, there are now ROS packages available upstream in Debian unstable and Ubuntu Xenial that can be installed from the main Debian and Ubuntu repositories. The original ROS packages have been modified to follow Debian guidelines, which includes splitting packages into multiple pieces, changing names in some cases, installing to /usr according to FHS guidelines, and using soversions on shared libraries.

ROSCon 2015 Hamburg: Day 1 – Lightning Talks from OSRF on Vimeo.

Next up: Dirk Thomas, William Woodall (OSRF) & Esteve Fernandez
Check out last week’s post: Ralph Seulin of CNRS

Ralph Seulin (CNRS, France): ROS for Education and Applied Research: Practical Experiences http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoralph-seulin-cnrs-france-ros-for-education-and-applied-research-practical-experiences/ Fri, 25 Mar 2016 08:00:55 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2131 [Read More]]]> The first step in doing something new, useful, and exciting with ROS is — without exception — learning how to use ROS. Ralph Seulin is part of CNRS in France, which, along with universities in Spain and Scotland, collaboratively offer a masters course in robotics and computer vision that includes a focus on ROS. Over four semesters, between 30 and 40 students go through the program. In this talk, Seulin discusses how ROS is taught to these students, as well as what kinds of research they leverage that knowledge into.

Before Seulin’s group could effectively teach ROS to students, they had to learn ROS for themselves. This was a little bit more difficult way back in 2013 than it is now, but they took advantage of the ROS Wiki , read all the books on ROS they could get ahold of, and of course made sure to attend ROSCon. From there, Seulin developed a series of tutorials for his students, starting with simulations and ending up with practical programming in ROS on the TurtleBot 2. Ultimately, students spend 250 hours on a custom robotics project that integrates motion control, navigation and localization, and computer vision tasks.

Seulin also makes use of ROS in application development. One of those applications is in precision vineyard agriculture because, as Seulin explains, “we come from Burgundy.” Using lasers mounted on a tractor to collect and classify 3D data, a prototype robot tractor can be used to analyze vineyard canopies and estimate leaf density. With this information, vineyards can dynamically adjust the application of agricultural chemicals, using just the right amount and only where necessary. Better for plants, better for humans, thanks to ROS.

ROSCon 2015 Hamburg: Day 1 – Ralph Seulin: ROS for education and applied research: practical experiences from OSRF on Vimeo.

Next up: Dirk Thomas, William Woodall (OSRF) & Esteve Fernandez
Check out last week’s post: Daniel Di Marco of Bosch

Daniel Di Marco (Bosch): Docker-Based Buildfarm for ROS http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshodaniel-di-marco-bosch-docker-based-buildfarm-for-ros/ Fri, 18 Mar 2016 08:00:48 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2124 [Read More]]]> 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.

ROSCon 2015 Hamburg: Day 1 – Daniel Di Marco: Docker-based ROS Build Farm from OSRF on Vimeo.

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

Improving the TurtleBot learning experience using simulation http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoimproving-the-turtlebot-user-experience-using-simulation/ Thu, 17 Mar 2016 17:54:36 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2114 [Read More]]]> During her Outreachy internship at Open Source Robotics Foundation, Nadya Ampilogova worked on a TurtleBot User Experience project.

The goal was to extend with lessons taking advantage of the simulation environment available in Gazebo. The use of robot simulation instead of a physical robot makes the tutorials accessible to a larger audience. All examples are with TurtleBot because it is a common way to start learning robotics. Many universities use the TurtleBot when teaching introductory robotics courses. In creating the lessons, Nadya focused on making the content engaging and accessible by integrating images and videos. The topics include how to install software, setup tools, write your first program to control a TurtleBot and lots more. Upon completion of this tutorial you will be able to create a TurtleBot application and test it in simulation.

The result of the project is twenty lessons about TurtleBot in simulation. They cover not only basic features but also give a brief overview of more complicated subjects. This tutorial makes studying robotics easier for people who may not have access to a real robot all of the time but who have a computer that can run the simulator.

You can find the tutorial on This internship was a part of the Outreachy Program. You can read more about Nadya’s internship on her blog.

OSRF accepted for Google Summer of Code 2016 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoosrf-accepted-for-google-summer-of-code-2016/ Mon, 14 Mar 2016 11:59:32 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2109 [Read More]]]> Do you want to spend the summer coding on Gazebo or ROS? OSRF has been accepted for GSoC and we are looking for talented students who want to participate as remote interns.

Accepted students will participate in real-world software development,
contributing to robotics projects and engaging with the global robotics community, all while
getting paid.

Check out our GSoC site and don’t forget to visit our ideas page, which lists projects that we’re interested in. Feel free to ask questions and propose suggestions at gsoc@localhost. The student application period starts March 14th.

Get ready for a robotics coding summer!

Ruffin White (Georgia Tech): ROS + Docker: Enabling Repeatable, Reproducible, and Deployable Robotic Software Via Linux Containers http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoruffin-white-georgia-tech-ros-docker-enabling-repeatable-reproducible-and-deployable-robotic-software-via-linux-containers/ Fri, 11 Mar 2016 08:00:48 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2103 [Read More]]]> Every day, roboticists write code that helps their robots do amazing new things. And every day, this code remains virtually useless to anyone else, because outside distribution is such a hassle. This isn’t a problem that’s unique to robotics: distributing software in general is tricky to do reliably and well, since you’re never sure what kind of system your end user has. Robotics magnifies this challenge because of the unpredictably exotic mix of hardware and software that makes up a given robot doing a given thing at a given time, combined with the extraordinarily rapid pace of advancement. Given all of this complexity, how do you make code that’s portable and robust and useful to as many people as possible?

Ruffin White, a graduate research assistant at the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines at Georgia Tech (and ex-OSRF intern), discusses how Linux containers can help manage some of these issues. A Linux container is a software package that lives somewhere in between a complete virtual machine and bare code. Using a service called Docker, you can wrap up code, distros, libraries, drivers, and all the other dependencies necessary for your code to function into portable containers that still use the underlying kernel on whatever they end up getting installed on. This allows the container to be very lightweight, while also providing adaptability to local infrastructure.

White gives three different demonstrations of how Docker containers can come in handy for robots in a ROS environment. In the first, he shows how in an educational context, you can use containers to provide a preset environment that can be safely experimented in without any risk. Second, for researchers, containers can allow you to easily test different algorithms, provides a way to publish code in a repeatable and reproducible way, and makes collaborative research much simpler. And finally, industry can take advantage of containers to deploy multiple nodes on different cloud services, or to manage entire swarms of robots at once.

If you want to give ROS a try inside Docker containers, the offical repo can be found at

ROSCon 2015 Hamburg: Day 1 – Ruffin White: ROS + Docker from OSRF on Vimeo.

Next up: Dejan Pangercic, Daniel Di Marco, and Arne Hamann (Robert Bosch)
Check out last week’s post: Morgan Quigley of OSRF

Morgan Quigley (OSRF): ROS 2 on “Small” Embedded Systems http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshomorgan-quigley-osrf-ros-2-on-small-embedded-systems/ Fri, 04 Mar 2016 08:00:28 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2099 [Read More]]]> Morgan Quigley is first author of the authoritative 2009 workshop paper on the Robot Operating System. He’s been Chief Architect at OSRF since 2012, and in 2013, MIT Tech Review awarded Quigley a prestigious TR35 award. In addition to software development, Quigley knows a thing or two about hardware: he helped Sandia National Labs design high-efficiency bipeds for DARPA, and he also gave Sandia a hand with the development of their sensor-rich, high-DOF robotic hand.

Quigley’s ROSCon talk is focused on small (but not tiny) microcontrollers: 32-bit MCUs running at a few hundred megahertz or so, with USB and Ethernet connections. While these types of processors can’t power smartphones or run Linux, they are found in many popular embedded systems, such as the Pixhawk PX4 autopilot. Microcontrollers like these would be much easier to integrate if they all operated under a standardized communication protocol, but there are enough inconvenient hoops that have to be jumped through to run ROS on them that it’s usually not worth the hassle.

ROS 2, which doesn’t rely on a master node and has native UDP message passing, promises to work much better than ROS on distributed embedded systems. To make ROS 2 fit on a small microcontroller, Quigley demonstrates a few applications of FreeRTPS, a portable, embedded-friendly implementation of the network protocol underlying ROS 2.

After showing the impressive results of some torture tests on a Discovery board, Quigley talks about what’s coming next, including a focus on even smaller microcontrollers (like Arduino boards that communicate over USB rather than Ethernet). Eventually, Quigley suggests that ROS 2 will be small and light enough to run on the microcontrollers inside sensors and actuators themselves, simplifying real-time control.

ROSCon 2015 Hamburg: Day 1 – Morgan Quigley: ROS 2 on “small” embedded systems from OSRF on Vimeo.

Next up: Ruffin White of Institute for Robotics & Intelligent Machines at Georgia Tech
Check out last week’s post: Roman Bapst of ETH Zurich and PX4

Roman Bapst (ETH Zurich and PX4): ROS on Dronecode Systems http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoroman-bapst-eth-zurich-and-px4-ros-on-dronecode-systems/ Fri, 26 Feb 2016 08:00:18 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2096 [Read More]]]> PX4 is a flight control software stack for autonomous aerial robots that describes itself as “rocket science straight from the best labs, powering anything from racing to cargo drones.” One of these labs is at ETH Zurich, where Roman Bapst serves on the faculty. Bapst works on computer vision and actively contributes to the PX4 autopilot platform.

Bapst starts out by describing some of the great things about the PX4 autopilot: it’s open source, open hardware, and supported by the Linux Foundation’s Dronecode Project, which provides a framework under which developers can contribute to an open source standard platform for drones. PX4 runs on 3DRobotics’ Pixhawk hardware, and once you hook up some sensors and servos, it will autonomously pilot nearly anything that flies – from conventional winged aircraft to multicopters to hybrids.

One of PX4’s unique features is its modularity, which is fundamentally very similar in structure to ROS. This means that you can run PX4 modules as ROS nodes, while taking advantage of other ROS packages under PX4 to do things like vision based navigation and control. Additionally, it lets you easily simulate PX4-based drones within Gazebo, which, unlike real life, has a free reset button that you can push after a crash.

The PX4 team is currently getting their software modules running as ROS nodes on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Flight drone development platform, which would be a very capable and (affordable) way of getting started with a custom autonomous drone.

ROSCon 2015 Hamburg: Day 1 – Roman Bapst: ROS on DroneCode Systems from OSRF on Vimeo.

Next up: Morgan Quigley of OSRF
Check out last week’s post: Gary Servín of Ekumen

Gary Servín (Ekumen): ROS android_ndk: What? Why? How? http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshogary-servin-ekumen-ros-android_ndk-what-why-how/ Fri, 19 Feb 2016 18:50:23 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2085 [Read More]]]> What’s ROS android_ndk? Why should you care? How does it work? Gary Servín is with Ekumen, an engineering and software consulting company based in Buenos Aires, Argentina that specializes in ROS, web and Android development. With the backing of Qualcomm and OSRF, Ekumen has been trying to make it both possible and easy to run ROS applications on small Android devices like tablets and cellphones using Android’s native language development kit.

As Gary explains, the increasing performance, decreasing cost, and overall ubiquity of Android devices make them ideal brains for robots. The tricky part is getting ROS packages to play nice with Android, which is where ROS android_ndk comes in: it’s a set of scripts that Ekumen is working on to make the process much easier. Unlike rosjava, ROS android_ndk gives you access to 181 packages from the desktop variant of ROS, with the ability to run native ROS nodes directly.

Ekumen is actively working on this project, with plans to incorporate wrappers for rosjava, actionlib implementation, and support for ROS 2. In the meantime, there’s already a set of tutorials on that should help you get started.

ROSCon 2015 Hamburg: Day 1 – Gary Servin: ROS android_ndk: What? Why? How? from OSRF on Vimeo.

Next up: Lorenz Meier & Roman Bapst of ETH Zurich and PX4
Check out last week’s post: Stefan Kohlbrecher of Technische Universitaet Darmstadt

Stefan Kohlbrecher (Technische Universitaet Darmstadt): An Introduction to Team ViGIR’s Open Source Software and DRC Post Mortem http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshostefan-kohlbrecher-technische-universitaet-darmstadt-an-introduction-to-team-vigirs-open-source-software-and-drc-post-mortem/ Fri, 12 Feb 2016 08:00:42 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2071 [Read More]]]> Stefan’s early research using tiny soccer-playing humanoid robots at Technische Universität Darmstadt in Germany prepared him well for software development on much larger humanoid robots that don’t play soccer at all. From the Darmstadt Dribblers RoboCup team to the DARPA Robotics Challenge Team ViGIR, Stefan has years of experience with robots that need to walk on two legs and do things while not falling over (much).

Almost all of the software that Team ViGIR used to control its ATLAS robot (named Florian) was ROS based. Stefan credits both the team’s prior experience with ROS, ROS’s existing software base, and its vibrant community for why Team ViGIR made the choice to go with ROS from the very beginning. Controlling the ATLAS robot is exceedingly complex, and Stefan takes us through the software infrastructure that Team ViGIR used during the DRC; from basic perception to motion planning to manipulation and user interfaces.

With lots of pictures and behind-the-scenes videos, Stefan describes how Team ViGIR planned to tackle the challenging DRC Finals course. The team used both high-level autonomy and low-level control, with an emphasis on dynamic, flexible collaboration between robot and operator. Stefan narrates footage of both of Florian’s runs at the DRC Finals; each was eventful, but we won’t spoil it for you.

To wrap up his talk, Stefan describes some of the lessons that Team ViGIR learned through their DRC experience: about ROS, about ridiculously complex humanoid robots, and about participating in a global robotics competition.

ROSCon 2015 Hamburg: Day 1 – Stefan Kohlbrecher: An Introduction to Team ViGIR’s Open Source Software and DRC Post Mortem from OSRF on Vimeo.

Next up: Gary Servin of Creativa77
Check out last week’s post: Mark Shuttleworth of Canonical

Mark Shuttleworth (Canonical): Commercial Models for the Robot Generation http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshomark-shuttleworth-canonical-commercial-models-for-the-robot-generation/ Fri, 05 Feb 2016 08:00:44 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2055 [Read More]]]> In 2004, Canonical released the first version of Ubuntu, a Debian-based open source Linux OS that provides one of the main operational foundations of ROS. Canonical’s founder, Mark Shuttleworth, was CEO of the company until 2009, when he transitioned to a leadership role that lets him focus more on product design and partnerships. In 2002, Mark spent eight days aboard the International Space Station, but that was before the ISS was home to a ROS-powered robot. He currently lives on the Isle of Man with 18 ducks and an occasional sheep. Ubuntu was a platinum co-sponsor of ROSCon 2015, and Mark gave the opening keynote on developing a business in the robot age.

Changes in society and business are both driven by changes in technology, Mark says, encouraging those developing technologies to consider the larger consequences that their work will have, and how those consequences will result in more opportunities. Shuttleworth suggests that robotics developers really need two things at this point: a robust Internet of Things infrastructure, followed by the addition of dynamic mobility that robots represent. However, software is a much more realistic business proposition for a robotics startup, especially if you leverage open source to create a developer community around your product and let others innovate through what you’ve built.

To illustrate this principle, Mark shows a live demo of a hexapod called Erle-Spider, along with a robust, high-level ‘meta’ build and packaging tool called Snapcraft. Snapcraft makes it easy for users to install software and for developers to structure and distribute it without having to worry about conflicts or inter-app security. The immediate future promises opportunities for robotics in entertainment and education, Mark says, especially if hardware, ROS, and an app-like economy can come together to give developers easy, reliable ways to bring their creations to market.

ROSCon 2015 Hamburg: Day 1 – Mark Shuttleworth: Commercial models for the robot generation from OSRF on Vimeo.

Next up: Stefan Kohlbrecher of Technische Universitaet Darmstadt
Check out last week’s post: OSRF’s Brian Gerkey

Gazebo Updates http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshogazebo-updates/ Wed, 03 Feb 2016 17:15:29 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2052 [Read More]]]> A few noteworthy events related to Gazebo have occurred over the previous couple months. A new version of Gazebo has been released, simulation tutorials have received an overhaul, and a new ArduPilot plugin for Gazebo has been created.

Gazebo 7 release

At the beginning of January, the we began to prepare for the release of Gazebo 7. This involved wrapping up a set of outstanding features and significant testing. On January 25th, Gazebo 7 was officially released. This version will have support for five years, and adds a variety of new and exciting features including a graphical model editor, torsional friction, wide angle camera sensor, and numerous performance improvements and bug fixes. Over the next year, we will focus on Gazebo’s user experience. To date, a lot of time has been spent perfecting physics and sensor simulation. This effort was vital for the Virtual Robotics Competition and other projects. Our focus now is to polish Gazebo into a tool that is more approachable by designers, engineers, students, and anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable using linux and/or a terminal.

Gazebo Tutorials

Documentation and support materials are extremely important, especially when using a complex system like Gazebo. First time users of Gazebo typically face a large learning curve that can be daunting. In an effort to reduce this learning curve, we have added new tutorials and restructured the tutorial system. A new section, called Guided, features tutorials that offer more structure. The first set of Guided tutorials are targeted to beginners. Over the next few months additional tutorials for intermediate and advanced users will be added.

Guided tutorials

ArduPilot Gazebo Plugin

Developers at DIY Drones have created a new ArduPilot plugin for Gazebo. Check out their blog post for more information. Their demo video, below, is an impressive demonstration of the ArduPilot plugin and Gazebo.

ROSCon Program Video – Brian Gerkey http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoroscon-program-video-brian-gerkey/ Fri, 29 Jan 2016 18:45:18 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2038 [Read More]]]> ROSCon is an annual conference focused on ROS, the Robot Operating System. Every year, hundreds of ROS developers of all skill levels and backgrounds, from industry to academia, come together to teach, learn, and show off their latest projects. ROSCon 2015 was held in Hamburg, Germany. Beginning today and each week thereafter, we’ll be highlighting one of the talks presented at ROSCon 2015.

Brian Gerkey (OSRF): Opening Remarks

Brian Gerkey is the CEO of the Open Source Robotics Foundation, which oversees core ROS development and helps to coordinate the efforts of the ROS community. Brian helped found OSRF in 2012, after directing open source development at Willow Garage.

Unless you’d like to re-live the ROSCon Logistics Experience, you can skip to 5:10 in Brian’s opening remarks, where he provides an overview of ROSCon attendees and ROS user metrics that shows how diverse the ROS community has become. Brian touches on what’s happened with ROS over the last year, along with the future of ROS and OSRF, and what we have to look forward to in 2016. Brian also touches on DARPA’s Robotics Fast Track program, which has a submission deadline of January 31, 2016.

ROSCon 2015 Hamburg: Day 1 – Opening Remarks from OSRF on Vimeo.

Next up, Mark Shuttleworth from Canonical.

ROS Turns 8 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoros-turns-8/ Tue, 08 Dec 2015 17:00:17 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=2006 [Read More]]]> [Cross-posted from the ROS blog.]

ROS 8 Years-thumb-640x358-1326

Eight years ago, Morgan Quigley, Eric Berger and Andrew Ng published a paper that was not about ROS. It was about STAIR, the STanford Artificial Intelligence Robot, which used a library called Switchyard to pass messages between software modules to perform complex manipulation tasks like stapler grasping. Switchyard was a purpose-built framework that was designed to be modular and robot-independent, and it was such a good idea that in 2009, “ROS: An Open-Source Robot Operating System” was presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Japan. As of this month, the paper introducing ROS has been cited 2,020 times, an increase of more than 50% over last year.

The popularity of one single paper is only a minor indicator of the popularity of the robot operating system that it introduced. At eight years old, ROS is growing faster than ever, and helping the robotics community to grow along with it. We’re especially excited to see how brand new startups have been taking advantage of the open source nature of ROS to help them develop useful, reliable robots that are creating entirely new markets. In 2015 alone, more than $150 million in VC funding (that we know of) was invested in businesses that utilize ROS.

Large, established companies have been taking more and more notice of ROS as well. At ROSCon this year, Fetch Robotics was joined as a platinum sponsor by Ubuntu, and a record number of gold sponsors included NVIDIA, Bosch, and Qualcomm and attendees from companies such as BMW, DJI, Intel and more. ROSCon 2015 was by far the largest conference we’ve ever had: it sold out weeks in advance.  Clearly next year we’re going to have to find a much bigger venue to make room for more attendees, more speakers, and more exhibitors.

Taking a look at how much our community has grown this year, it’s easy to see why ROSCon has become so popular: it’s a reflection of the enthusiasm and engagement of the ROS user base. In May 2015 alone, nearly nine million ROS packages were downloaded from over 70,000 unique IP addresses, and these numbers don’t even count mirrors. This suggests that ROS probably has hundreds of thousands of active users. We also have a very robust developer community: 1,840 people have contributed to ROS’ 10 million lines of code, averaging 20 commits per day. The ROS wiki has gotten 10% bigger since last year, and there are over 11,000 users on ROS Answers, a 32% increase over last year, with a total of more than 5,000 questions answered. It’s numbers like these that make us so confident in the long term future of ROS.

Counting ROS

Because of the nature of the ROS license, we actually don’t know how many users, robots, and developers there are utilizing ROS.  Many of the numbers that we are citing throughout are likely to be much larger.  For example, we specifically know of approximately 80 types of robots using ROS, but almost every day we hear about new ones.  And not every company using ROS discloses so publicly, so our estimates on venture capital investment can be better characterized as lower bounds than estimates.

If you’re not part of the ROS community yet, there’s never been a better time to get involved. Even if you don’t have experience with robots or programming, there’s a wide variety of low-cost robots and helpful online tutorials that can get you started, and we’re also delighted to announce (just in time for the holidays!) that O’Reilly Media has published “Programming Robots with ROS: A Practical Introduction to the Robot Operating System,” by Morgan Quigley, Brian Gerkey, and Bill Smart, which will take you from zero to ROS expert in just 448 pages.

Learning ROS will allow you to do all kinds of cool stuff with more than 80 robotic platforms. You can choose from the capable, affordable TurtleBot, one of the many sophisticated humanoid robots that competed in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, or even NASA’s Robonaut, currently undergoing testing on the International Space Station. Robots powered by ROS are everywhere, and here are just a few of them:

For full frame clips see the long version of the montage.

Of course, we have no idea how many robots are actually running ROS, or how many people or companies are using it, because ROS is open source and completely free. We’re often surprised to learn that cutting edge robots that we’re already familiar with are powered by ROS, as when BMW announced at ROSCon that they’ve been using ROS in their autonomous cars for the past few years. We weren’t at all surprised to hear why BMW chose ROS for its autonomous driving research, though: they appreciate its popularity, its stability and reliability based on a large user base, the fact that it makes it easy to collaborate, and its open source nature.

As the ROS community has grown, various special interest groups have organized to promote ROS for specific application domains. The ROS Industrial Consortium is one such group.  ROS-I is a software library that builds on ROS and leverages its power and flexibility to control manufacturing automation equipment including industrial robot arms. It is supported by the 36-member organizations comprised of companies such as 3M, ABB, BMW, Ford, Boeing, Siemens and more.  Representatives from Boeing, Caterpillar, Yaskawa and more speak on behalf of ROS and ROS-I in this video.

2016 is poised to be the biggest year ever for ROS, and we’d like to highlight two things that are worth getting particularly excited about. The first is ROS 2.0, which we’ve been developing for the past few years. ROS 2 will support the growth of the ROS community by making it much easier to work with small embedded systems, teams of multiple robots, and robots that require real-time control. We’d also like to make sure you’re familiar with Robotics Fast Track (RFT), which is  a program that we’re working on with DARPA. It’s an easy way for you to get government funding for your awesome robotics ideas without having to give up any of your IP, and absolutely anyone can apply.

We write these anniversary posts to help give you a sense of how ROS has a whole has been doing over the past year, but we’d certainly encourage you to find out for yourself, by getting involved. Write or edit a Wiki page. Answer a question on ROS Answers. Come to ROSCon. And, when you’re ready, think about helping to maintain ROS itself, or even contributing a brand new ROS package. OSRF is doing great, but the long-term success of ROS depends on all of the incredibly awesome ROS users themselves. If you’re already an active part of the ROS community, we can’t thank you enough, and if you’re not, think about it: you can help ROS grow and thrive for eight more years, and beyond.

Looking Forward to the Robot Economy http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsholooking-forward-to-the-robot-economy/ Mon, 30 Nov 2015 20:15:56 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1990 [Read More]]]> OSRF CEO, Brian Gerkey, was recently asked to contribute his thoughts as part of O’Reilly Media’s recent Next: Economy Summit. Called “WTF”, the event tackled the issues of how work, business and society face massive technology-driven change. His contribution was entitled: “Looking Forward to the Robot Economy”. Check out the excerpt, below.

Let’s talk about robots. In the near future, robots will learn how to do more and more of the things that we humans are used to doing ourselves. Watching the progress of robotic technology over the last several years has caused a wild and so far mostly theoretical economic panic about the future of humans in the workplace. But despite the flood of articles suggesting that the human worker is doomed, robots are almost certainly not going to take your job anytime soon.

The complete post is here.

Join Us for DARPA’s Robotics Fast Track West Coast Tour, Nov. 17-19 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshojoin-us-for-darpas-robotics-fast-track-west-coast-tour-nov-17-19/ Tue, 10 Nov 2015 19:18:54 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1892 [Read More]]]> 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! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshohappy-halloween-2/ Fri, 30 Oct 2015 21:45:06 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1888 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 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshotune-in-to-roscon-2015-oct-3-4/ Wed, 30 Sep 2015 20:49:12 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1843 [Read More]]]> 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 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshogazebo-rendering-abstraction/ Tue, 29 Sep 2015 12:00:13 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1822 [Read More]]]> 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 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshofifty-planes-in-the-air-running-ros-gazebo/ Wed, 23 Sep 2015 11:59:52 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1833 [Read More]]]> 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 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshogazebo-gets-better-at-flying-and-diving/ Mon, 15 Jun 2015 11:59:36 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1726 [Read More]]]> 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 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoros-gazebo-at-the-drc-finals/ Tue, 09 Jun 2015 23:05:38 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1705 [Read More]]]> 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 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoosrf-welcomes-our-2015-gsoc-students/ Tue, 02 Jun 2015 11:59:15 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1674 [Read More]]]> gsocStudents15

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! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshostop-by-the-osrf-booth-at-the-drc-finals/ Fri, 29 May 2015 18:15:54 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1652 [Read More]]]>

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 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshorobotics-fast-track-now-accepting-applications/ Mon, 18 May 2015 17:50:57 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1597 [Read More]]]>

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!

RSS 2015 Workshop on Robot Simulation http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshorss-2015-workshop-on-robot-simulation/ Thu, 14 May 2015 01:57:42 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1521 [Read More]]]> A workshop on Realistic, Rapid, and Repeatable Robot Simulation (R4SIM) will be held at the Robotics Science and Systems conference  in Rome, Italy.

The R4SIM workshop is motivated by the need for robotics simulators that

  1. lower the barriers to entering robotics research,
  2. provide a means to realistically and comprehensively simulate systems in conditions, or at scales, that would be unfeasible or impossible to test experimentally, and
  3. enable efficient and reliable transition to and from hardware experiments.

Check out the workshop, call for papers, and important dates at

And a full CFP is located here:

Robots, Women and Design: Opportunities Abound http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshorobots-women-design-opportunities-abound/ Tue, 28 Apr 2015 23:20:05 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1542 [Read More]]]> This piece was written as a precursor to the Silicon Valley Robotics panel titled “Women in Robotics: Challenge or Opportunity?” Join us at IDEO’s San Francisco office on Wednesday, April 29 at 7 pm to hear from women in a wide range of robotics roles. Tickets can be purchased here.

Let me get the basic statistics out of the way. It is widely acknowledged and reported that women are grossly underrepresented in the STEM fields. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) reported in 2011 that women hold less than 25% of the country’s STEM jobs. Women comprise a mere 17% of Google’s technology workforce; Apple sits at 20%. There are many factors at play, from what the ESA describes as the lack of “family-friendly flexibility in the STEM fields,” to gender discrimination and stereotyping, to the shortage of strong female role models.

It is the latter point that I wish to touch on first, because indeed, I found my niche in robotics due in large part to the outstanding mentor I found in Leila Takayama. I met Leila during an internship at Willow Garage, back when I was struggling to apply a psychology degree to a burgeoning interest in badass robots. I began at Willow as an operations intern. I did everything from inventory management, to lunch clean-up, to multimeter measurements on robot stress tests, to light switch labeling. As much as label making satisfies my deepest desire for order, I saw everyone around me designing and building the PR2. At that time, the PR2 was arguably the world’s most sophisticated personal robot. I wanted in on the action. That’s about as far as I got, though – a keen interest in robots – until Leila joined and introduced me to Human-Robot Interaction.

Without a doubt, it was my experience as Leila’s research assistant, her advice and encouragement, and the challenges she emboldened me to take on, that opened my eyes to how I could make a place for myself in the world of robotics. With Leila as my role model and mentor, I conducted HRI research, co-authored a paper, gradually become comfortable surrounded by a nearly all-male engineering team, and shed the sometimes crippling doubt around whether I had what it took to work in a highly technical field. Witnessing Leila successfully navigate this male-dominated industry cemented in me the confidence I needed to pursue a career in robotics, not only as a woman, but as a designer and researcher.

At Leila’s urging, I applied and was accepted to Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction masters program. This turned out to be the second most influential factor in getting me to where I am now, co-founder and Lead UX Designer at OSRF. I mention this because, while UX researchers and designers are now in high demand at technology companies, that path would have been unknown to me without Leila’s example.
The message here is twofold: find a mentor within robotics, as I did with Leila; and realize there can be more to a STEM career than only engineering. There is enormous opportunity for women and researchers and designers; there are countless ways for women to kick ass in the robotics field. Don’t misunderstand me: be an engineer if that’s where your passion lies, but know that there’s more to robotics than engineering.

As robots become increasingly commonplace in our everyday lives, the need for robotics designers and researchers (and engineers) is growing, opening up vast opportunities to shape how robots function and behave, and how we in turn perceive and interact with them. Just one simple example: What should happen during a robot-human encounter in a narrow hallway? Numerous social norms govern this scenario on how to negotiate passage when only humans are involved. Bringing such an encounter to a satisfactory and natural conclusion when a robot is involved requires thoroughly technical as well as social and user experience expertise. Who knows, maybe having a female perspective in this research means that robots will never be guilty of manslamming.

For robots to weave seamlessly into daily life, we must design and construct them with a keen understanding of the preference differences not just between genders, but within male and female populations as well. Robots need to appear non-threatening yet capable, be able to accommodate personal space preferences, and provide the desired amount of information with the communication style or tone most effective with its current audience. Robots designed and built exclusively by men, or exclusively by women, will fail in some regards to meet the needs of half their users. If we wish for robotic technologies to flourish, it would be foolhardy to accept the STEM fields’ gender ratio status quo.

Robotics is special among technical areas in that the breadth of required specialties is exceptionally broad. Without an understanding of technical, psychological, cognitive, and social factors robotics will stay locked in limited industrial application areas. Such a limitation would be a enormous opportunity lost.

Clearpath offers ROS consulting service http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoclearpath-offers-ros-consulting-service/ Tue, 21 Apr 2015 18:40:52 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1513 [Read More]]]> Our friends at Clearpath Robotics announced today that they’re offering ROS consulting services for enterprise R&D projects. And they’ve committed to giving part of the proceeds to OSRF, to support the continued development and support of ROS!

This service is something that we’ve heard requested many times, especially from our industry users, and we’re excited that Clearpath is going to offer it. If you’re looking for help or advice in using ROS on a current or upcoming project, get in touch with Clearpath.

The Value of Open Source Simulation http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshothe-value-of-open-source-simulation/ Fri, 17 Apr 2015 17:46:36 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1501 [Read More]]]> As part of the run-up to the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals in June, check out this piece on the role of tools like Gazebo: “The Value of Open Source Simulation for Robotics Development and Testing.”

Stay tuned for previews of what we’ll be showing off at the DRC Finals Expo…

MathWorks announces Robotics System Toolbox http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshomathworks-announces-robotics-system-toolbox/ Wed, 18 Mar 2015 21:04:39 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1396 [Read More]]]> We reported last year that our friends at MathWorks had released ROS support for MATLAB. They presented that work in a talk at ROSCon 2014.

That ROS support has now been promoted into an official MATLAB toolbox, called the Robotics System Toolbox. You can work in MATLAB with any ROS-enabled robot, simulator, or log data. Check out their overview video!

OSRF is in Google Summer of Code, version 2015! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoosrf-is-in-google-summer-of-code-version-2015/ Thu, 05 Mar 2015 00:49:19 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1389 [Read More]]]> Accepted students will participate in real-world software development,
contributing to robotics projects like Gazebo, ROS, and Ignition
Transport, and engaging with the global robotics community, all while
getting paid. As a bonus, this year we also offer ROS-Industrial

Check out our GSoC site and don’t forget to visit our ideas page, which lists projects that we’re interested in. Feel free to ask
questions and propose suggestions at gsoc@localhost. The
student application period starts March 16th. Get ready for a robotics
coding summer!

OSRF joins Dronecode http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoosrf-joins-dronecode/ Tue, 17 Feb 2015 18:37:01 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1358 [Read More]]]> Dronecode logoWe’re pleased to announce that OSRF has joined the Dronecode Project, which promotes open source platforms for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). That mission, plus the burgeoning use of ROS and Gazebo in UAV development, make Dronecode and OSRF natural partners.

We’ll work with Dronecode to make our tools even more useful for UAV projects. We’ll also bring together the general robotics community and the aerial robotics community. Both groups have valuable tools and capabilities which can be shared, to everyone’s benefit.

We look forward to getting more involved with the UAV community and seeing some amazing open source flying robots.

Dr. Baxter goes to Oregon http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshodr-baxter-goes-to-oregon/ Mon, 16 Feb 2015 16:41:19 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1347 [Read More]]]> At the end of January, Baxter left OSRF for a stint in Corvallis, Oregon where he will be used in a project that is investigating the use of teleoperated robots in the treatment of highly contagious diseases such as Ebola. He will be joining the Personal Robotics Group, part of Oregon State University’s growing Robotics Program, as part of their NSF-funded work to bring robots to the front lines of the current Ebola outbreak.

Health care workers are at the highest risk of exposure when working in close proximity to infected patients. Even the use of personal protective equipment still exposes workers to considerable risk of infection. These risks are due to both faulty practice and extreme conditions, especially in harsh locations such as West Africa where high temperatures and humidity present real operational challenges. The use of intuitive teleoperation interfaces will enable health care workers to remotely operate robots (such as Baxter) to perform significant portions of their jobs from a safe distance. Examples of potential tasks include patient monitoring, equipment moving, and contaminated material disposal. This will allow health care workers to provide needed care while maintaining the important patient-health care worker interaction, all while making their jobs safer and more tolerable.

Here is an example of a task that Baxter will help investigate, as performed by the PR2:

Gazebo Released for DARPA HAPTIX Project http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshogazebo-released-for-darpa-haptix-project/ Mon, 09 Feb 2015 03:30:41 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1350 [Read More]]]> The Gazebo team has been hard at work setting up a simulation environment for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) program. The goal of the HAPTIX program is to provide amputees with prosthetic limb systems that feel and function like natural limbs, and to develop next-generation sensorimotor interfaces to drive and receive rich sensory content from these limbs. Managed by Dr. Doug Weber, HAPTIX is being run out of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO).

As the organization maintaining Gazebo, OSRF has been tasked with extending Gazebo to simulate prosthetic hands and test environments, and develop both graphical and programming interfaces to the hands. OSRF is officially releasing a new version of Gazebo for use by HAPTIX participants. Highlights of the new release include support for OptiTrack motion capture system; the NVIDIA 3D vision system; numerous teleoperation options including the Razer Hydra, SpaceNavigator, mouse, mixer board and keyboard; a high-dexterity prosthetic arm; and programmatic control of the simulated arm using Linux, Windows and MATLAB. More information and tutorials are available at the Gazebo website. Here’s an overview video:

“Our track record of success in simulation as part of the DARPA Robotics Challenge makes OSRF a natural partner for the HAPTIX program,” according to John Hsu, Chief Scientist at Open Source Robotics Foundation. “Simulation of prosthetic hands and the accompanying GUI will significantly enhance the HAPTIX program’s ability to help restore more natural functionality to wounded service members.”

Gazebo is an open source simulator that makes it possible to rapidly test algorithms, design robots, and perform regression testing using realistic scenarios. Gazebo provides users with a robust physics engine, high-quality graphics, and convenient programmatic and graphical interfaces. Gazebo was the simulation environment for the VRC, the Virtual Robotics Challenge stage of the DARPA Robotics Challenge.

This project also marks the first time Windows and MATLAB users can interact with Gazebo, thanks to our new cross-platform transport library. The scope is limited to the HAPTIX project, however plans are in motion to bring the entire Gazebo package to Windows.

Teams participating on HAPTIX will have access to a customized version of Gazebo that the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL) developed under the DARPA Revolutionizing Prosthetics program, as well as representative physical therapy objects used in clinical research environments.

More details on HAPTIX can be found in the DARPA announcement.

OSRF welcomes Ying Lu http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoosrf-welcomes-ying-lu/ Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:15:49 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1299 [Read More]]]> OSRF is pleased to welcome Ying Lu! Ying is currently a Ph.D. student at the Robotics Lab of the Department of Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, under the direction of Prof. Jeff Trinkle. Before that, she received a BS degree from University of Science and Technology of China. Her research focuses on contact and constraint models and solvers in multibody dynamics, with an emphasis on a benchmarking framework for unified interfaces to use different models and solvers. She was a member of the RPI Rockie team at the 2014 Sample Return Challenge, helping with the vision system, using ROS and OpenCV. Ying attended the 2013 and 2014 Grace Hopper Conference, a celebration for women in computing, and she was a 2014 Grace Hopper Scholar.

Ying is enthusiastic and excited to see how robotics is going to change the world, just as the computer revolution does!

OSRF welcomes Louise Poubel http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoosrf-welcomes-louise-poubel/ Wed, 28 Jan 2015 02:35:17 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1287 [Read More]]]> OSRF is pleased to welcome Louise Poubel! Louise grew up in Brazil and thought why not cross the world and go to college in Japan? As if two continents weren’t enough, later she decided to get a master’s in robotics in Europe, where she studied in Poland and France. There, she did research on making humanoid robots imitate human whole body movements in real time. At the end of 2013, Louise joined OSRF as an intern, and has since been collaborating with GUI tools for Gazebo. Now she’s coming to conquer one more continent while joining our team full-time.

She is excited about open source technology and user experience because she believes that machines are here to make life easier for everyone around the world, not the opposite! Along this line of thought, she hopes one day to make robotic Rubik’s cubes which solve themselves while humans just sit back and relax.

ROS2 gets embedded http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoros2-gets-embedded/ Fri, 23 Jan 2015 19:32:12 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1248 [Read More]]]> We are happy to introduce a prototype for ROS 2 in deeply-embedded systems, using the stm3240g-eval board, which contains an STM32F4 microcontroller, an Ethernet interface, and some extra SRAM. The prototype combines a real-time operating system (NuttX) with a pseudo-POSIX interface, a DDS implementation (Tinq), and an example that uses ROS message types to communicate with other ROS 2 machines.

Here’s Victor to tell you about it:

This prototype has several caveats, most importantly that system performance is limited to ~3 Hz at the moment due to the UDP implementation of the underlying RTOS, but we expect that to improve drastically over time. We are hoping that this work is a starting point for the next generation of ROS-compatible sensors and actuators: robot parts that, out of the box, plug into an Ethernet network and interoperate in the ROS environment as first class participants.

Thank you to OSRF supporters! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshothank-you-to-osrf-supporters/ Fri, 23 Jan 2015 02:58:21 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1240 [Read More]]]> OSRF logoToward the end of last year, we asked you for financial support. And you responded. We received donations ranging from $2 to $100, coming from individuals spanning 26 countries. It’s fantastic to see this breadth of support. Thank you to everybody who donated!

You can continue to donate to OSRF at any time, and of course we’re always interested to talk with new corporate or government sponsors.

Another way to support OSRF, if you’re an Amazon customer, is to login to Amazon Smile and select us (Open Source Robotics Foundation) as your charity (learn more).

Ubuntu ROS apps on the way http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoubuntu-ros-apps-on-the-way/ Tue, 20 Jan 2015 16:53:33 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1226 [Read More]]]> Ubuntu announced today that their new Snappy Core operating system, already being adopted for cloud computing, will be specifically supported on embedded, connected, mobile devices (aka Internet of Things).

And what’s the coolest kind of embedded, connected, mobile device? A robot, of course. Here at OSRF, we’ve been working with Ubuntu to ensure that ROS will be ready to use on Snappy and we’re making plans for a ROS / Snappy store. You’ll be able to write, share, and run ROS-based Snappy apps for your favorite robots (check out an early prototype).

We’ve supported and relied on Ubuntu Linux since the beginning of the ROS project, and we’re excited to be part of this transition to a new Ubuntu-based app ecosystem.

New project: Eyes of Things http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshonew-project-eyes-of-things/ Thu, 15 Jan 2015 19:16:29 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1215 [Read More]]]> EoT logo

We’re happy to announce that OSRF will be an advisor to the Eyes of Things (EoT) project, which was recently selected by the European Commission in one of the first batches of the ICT-H2020 Framework Programme. The EoT project brings together eight European partners: VISILAB (Spain, Project Coordinator), Movidius (Ireland), Awaiba (Portugal), DFKI (Germany), Thales (France), Fluxguide (Austria), nViso (Switzerland) and Evercam (Ireland).

The 3.7M€ project envisages a computer vision platform that can be used both standalone and embedded into more complex systems, particularly for wearable applications, robotics, home products, and surveillance. The core hardware will be based on a system-on-chip (SoC) that has been designed for maximum performance of the always-demanding vision applications while keeping the lowest energy consumption. This will allow always on and truly mobile vision processing. Software will be developed in parallel to this design, at both the low and middleware levels, and also for a number of demonstrators. The demonstrators span applications in surveillance, wearable configuration and embedded into a household item. Eyes of Things will have a duration of three years, starting in January 2015. The kick-off meeting will be January 27th, 2015.

OSRF welcomes Esteve Fernandez http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoosrf-welcomes-esteve-fernandez-2/ Tue, 13 Jan 2015 21:13:21 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=1203 [Read More]]]> OSRF is pleased to welcome Esteve Fernandez! After working for many years on distributed systems, Esteve switched gears and pursued a career in robotics. He also enjoys writing software and sharing it with others, so combining open source and robotics is an exciting opportunity for him.

Esteve holds a MSc in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and M.S.E. and B.S.E. in Computer Engineering, and has been a professional developer for over 10 years. He is a member of the Apache Software Foundation and a frequent speaker at open source conferences, such as PyCon US and EuroPython.

Overall, Esteve found in robotics the perfect excuse for playing with Lego in his 30s without getting weird looks.

Support OSRF! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshosupport-osrf/ Wed, 17 Dec 2014 23:53:09 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=741 [Read More]]]> When we started the ROS project back in 2007, our goal was to build an open robotics software platform for students, engineers, entrepreneurs, and anyone else to freely use and modify. In 2012, we took the next step by founding OSRF as an independent non-profit organization to pursue that mission, with responsibility for both ROS and Gazebo. Today, we see these tools used worldwide to teach concepts, solve problems, and build products in ways that we couldn’t have imagined at the beginning.

We couldn’t be happier with the size and breadth of the collaborative community that we’ve built together, and we’re grateful to everyone in the community for the roles that you’ve played.

You won’t be surprised to hear that it costs money to run OSRF. We employ a small team of amazing individuals, we operate an office in the Bay Area, and we run a suite of online services on which the community depends.

Since our founding, OSRF has enjoyed generous financial support from government agencies and private industry, for which we’re very grateful. We hope and anticipate that that support will continue in the future. But now, as we approach the end of OSRF’s third year, we’re trying something new: asking you, our users, for support.

If you rely on ROS and/or Gazebo in your lab, your startup company, your weekend projects, or elsewhere, please consider donating to OSRF. Your donation will support our people and infrastructure so that we can spend (even) more time developing and maintaining the software and services on which you depend.

As one example, if everyone who visits the ROS wiki between now and the end of the year donates just $2, we’ll have our costs covered for next year to manage, update, and host all of our online services, including the wiki. Donations in any amount are welcome. Give more, and we can do more.

Donate to OSRF today.

Thank you for your support.

Contributions to the Open Source Robotics Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, will be used at its discretion for its charitable purposes. Such donations are tax-deductible in the U.S. to the extent permitted by law.

Humanoid robot with open electronics http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshohumanoid-robot-with-open-electronics/ Wed, 17 Dec 2014 00:59:56 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=729 [Read More]]]> We’re pleased to announce the public release of information on a long-standing collaboration between OSRF and Sandia National Labs. The Intelligent Systems Control Department at Sandia is developing a humanoid robot intended for energy-efficient walking. We’re participating in the project by developing an electrical system capable of driving its numerous large motors and interfacing with higher-level software systems. Naturally, our contributions will be released as open-source hardware and firmware. Today’s press release from Sandia provides more details, and includes this introductory video:

(You might recall that we also recently built the open electronics and firmware for a new robot hand.)

OSRF welcomes Rachel Hwang http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoosrf-welcomes-rachel-hwang/ Fri, 12 Dec 2014 12:00:49 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=699 [Read More]]]> OSRF is pleased to welcome Rachel Hwang, our intern for the Outreach Program for Women!

Rachel got her B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Chicago. As an undergrad, she worked as a research assistant at the Chicago Language Modeling Lab. With a background in linguistics, Rachel is especially interested in machine learning, natural language processing and all things computational linguistics. As on OPW intern, she will be working on a path planning algorithm for Gazebo. You can follow Rachel’s progress on her blog.




Happy Halloween from OSRF! http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshohappy-halloween-from-osrf/ Fri, 31 Oct 2014 20:58:39 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=687

Look at all these enthusiastic robot nerds! Even Baxter got dressed up. Happy Halloween from everyone at the Open Source Robotics Foundation!

Saying hello to the new office http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshosaying-hello-to-the-new-office/ Sat, 18 Oct 2014 19:38:16 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=677 [Read More]]]> A couple of weeks ago, we said goodbye to our old office, the original home of OSRF. Now that we’re totally unpacked, we can say hello to our new office. It’s a old warehouse building that we had renovated into a great R&D space:


If you’re coming to visit, note the new location.

OpenStreetMap support in Gazebo http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshoopen-street-maps-support-in-gazebo/ Thu, 09 Oct 2014 11:00:46 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=667 [Read More]]]> Tashwin Khurana, M.S. student in Computer Science from Lehigh University, worked with OSRF during her internship as part of the Gnome Outreach Program for Women.

Tashwin developed a tool for downloading data from the OpenStreetMap database to produce a corresponding world file for Gazebo. Tashwin focused on importing roads, traffic signals, and buildings.

In addition, she provided support for a new shape type: the extruded polyline. The two-dimensional shape is defined with a series of points that can be extruded to form a solid object. This can be very useful for visualizing buildings and similar constructions.



Saying goodbye to the old office http://OFFLINEZIP.wpshosaying-goodbye-to-the-old-office/ Mon, 06 Oct 2014 15:23:49 +0000 http://OFFLINEZIP.wpsho?p=660 [Read More]]]> Since July 2012, OSRF has lived happily in Mountain View in our office on Shoreline Boulevard. In the intervening 2+ years, the team has expanded and now we’ve outgrown that building. Today is our first day in our new office, which is twice the size of the old one and a bit more professionally appointed. We’re still in Mountain View, now on South Whisman Rd

Last week, we said goodbye to the old office by raising a glass, lowering a flag, and reminiscing about the last couple of years. (We’ll post pictures of the new place after we’ve finished unpacking.)

Raising a glass

Lowering the flag

OSRF with flag