ROS – the open source Robotic Operating System

Brian Gerkey talks about his organization's work on developed ROS, the open source Robot Operating System.

Brian Gerkey wanted a common robotic control language. Taking inspiration from the LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL Python) open source tools in the 1990s Brian worked to develop ROS, the Robot Operating System. ROS is an open source kit of tools, libraries and programming conventions for programming robots.

ROS was developed in multiple locations and intended to work on many different robot platforms. Willow Garage in Menlo Park California supplied many PR2 robots at the beginning of the project, and tens of thousands of users worldwide now contribute to the organization.

ROS is intended to help any user, researcher to student to maker, bring their ideas to life using robotics. Several of the ROS contributors were completely frustrated and stifled during their coding development phases, and their collective goal is to make development easier.

Gerkey gives great examples of ROS’ greatest hits in his talk, and the ROS website itself also has a video showcasing fantastic robotic accomplishments. Brian shows robots that play musical instruments, flip pancakes, and do laundry. Human operators are shown controlling robotic arms and biped walking robots.

Much of the project was developed with the PR2 robot in mind. Gerkey was the Director of Open Source Development at Willow Garage in 2011 when he was named to the MIT Technology Review’s TR35 Listing of the World’s Top Young Innovators for 2011.

The ROS project is amazing, not just for its worldwide scope, but also for its open source need to pull in as many developers as possible. The list of accomplishments that ROS programmers have completed is fantastic, and more tasks are added to the list every month.