HERB (Home Exploring Robotic Butler) is a mobile manipulation platform built by Intel Research Pittsburgh, in collaboration with the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. HERB is designed to be a "robotic butler" and has been demonstrated in a variety of real-world kitchen tasks, such as opening refrigerator and cabinet doors, finding and collecting coffee mugs, and throwing away trash. HERB is powered by a variety of open-source libraries, including several developed by CMU researchers, like OpenRAVE and GATMO.
OpenRAVE is a software platform for robotics that was designed specifically for the challenges related to motion planning. It was created in 2006 by Rosen Diankov, and in late 2008 he integrated it with ROS. The benefits of this integration can be seen on HERB.
HERB has a Barrett WAM arm, a pair of low-power onboard computers, Pointgrey Flea and Dragonfly cameras, a SICK LMS lidar, a rotating Hokuyo lidar, and a Logitech 9000 webcam, all of which sit on a Segway RMP200 base. HERB communicates with off-board PCs over a wireless network.
ROS is glue for this setup: ROS is used for the hardware drivers, process management, and communication on HERB. ROS' ability to distribute processes across computers is used to help perform computation off the robot.
OpenRAVE provides an environment on top of this that unifies the controls and sensors for doing motion-planning algorithms, including sending trajectories to the arm and hand. OpenRAVE implements Diankov et. al's work on caging grasps, which enables HERB to perform tasks like opening and closing doors, drawers, cabinets, and turning handles.
In addition to manipulating objects, HERB has to be able to keep track of people and other movable objects that exist in real-world environments. HERB uses the GATMO (Generalized Approach to Tracking Movable Objects) library to track these movable objects. GATMO was developed by Garratt Gallagher and is available from gatmo.org. The GATMO library includes packaging and installation instructions for ROS.
The collaboration between CMU and Intel Labs Pittsburgh has produced numerous other libraries that have found their way into ROS. Rosen Diankov started the cmu-ros-pkg repository, which houses many of these libraries, and he also wrote rosoct, an Octave client library for ROS. Another library of note is the chomp_motion_planner package, which was implemented by Mrinal Kalakrishnan based on the work of Ratliff et. al.