Originally published in Medium:
I'm delighted to announce a new game-changing standard for building robot components, H-ROS: the Hardware Robot Operating System. H-ROS provides manufacturers tools for building interoperable robot components that can easily be exchanged or replaced between robots.
H-ROS is about supporting a common environment of robot hardware components, where manufacturers comply with standard interfaces built upon ROS.
Powered by the popular Robot Operating System (ROS) and built with industry and developers in mind, H-ROS classifies robot components in 5 types: sensing?--?used to perceive the world, actuation?--?allow interaction with the environment, communication?--?provide a means of interconnection, cognition?--?the brain of the robot and hybrid?--?components that group together different sub-components under a common interface. This building-block-style parts come as reusable and reconfigurable components allowing developers, to easily upgrade their robots with hardware from different manufacturers and add new features in seconds.
Motivation and origin
Building a robot is accepted as a harsh task thereby it makes sense to reuse previous work to reduce this complexity. Unfortunately, nowadays there are little efforts that reuse hardware in both academy and industry. Robots are generally built by multidisciplinary teams (generally a whole research group or a company division) where different engineers get involved in the mechanical, electrical and logical design. Most of the time is spent dealing with the hardware/software interfaces and little is put into behavior development or real-world scenarios. Existing hardware platforms, although starting to become more common, lack extensibility.
Examples can be seen in several commercial and industrial robots that hit the market recently and already include a common software infrastructure (generally the Robot Operating System(ROS)) but lack of a hardware standard.
With H-ROS, building robots will be about placing H-ROS-compatible hardware components together to build new robot configurations. Constructing robots won't be restricted to a few with high technical skills but it will be extended to a great majority with a general understanding of the sensing and actuation needed in a particular scenario.
H-ROS was initially funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) through the Robotics Fast Track program in 2016. It is now available for selected industry partners and will soon be released for the wider robotics community. Additional information can be requested through its official web page at https://h-ros.com/. H-ROS was first unveiled and showcased at ROSCon 2016 (October 8th-9th) in Seoul, South Korea.