Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Improving ROS

Here at I Heart Robotics, we are a little obsessed with ROS and it's ability to produce amazing Videos like this.

While I am convinced that the ease of development and broad hardware support will ensure that we will be using ROS to build robots 20 years from now, I still have had one minor concern in the back of my mind. Having seen how flexible corporate ethics are over time, how will Willow Garage deal with the inevitable situation where the ROS community and Willow Garage's priorities are not in perfect alignment. While ROS is opensource there is a necessity for developers outside of Willow Garage to be able to propose changes to the core of ROS without resorting to forking the project.

Now with the ROS Enhancement Proposals (REPs) there is now a documented process for improvement. An unlike the development process for projects like Android where the results of development are dumped onto the net at regular intervals, Willow Garage has started using the process themselves to get feedback from community on their changes to the ROS core.

This is a great step forward and will ensure that the robots you buy in the near future will come with a sticker that says "Powered by ROS" as opposed to powered by the robotics framework that shall not be named.

Note: Artist's concept drawing not official "Powered by ROS" graphic, though maybe I should submit a REP for ROS logo usage.

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