October 2012 Archives

From the ROS Industrial Consortium

With input from the industrial robotics and automation community, Southwest Research Institute has set a low-cost membership model for the ROS-Industrial Consortium (RIC). This model encourages a broad base of membership and gives participants more control over how development funds are used. In conjunction with the launch of the consortium, SwRI has funded a special internal research program to accelerate ROS-Industrial development and benefit the technical needs of the Consortium.

Southwest Research Institute is launching the ROS-Industrial Consortium to conduct foundational, precompetitive research and code development and apply advanced ROS software to industrial applications. "As an early adapter of ROS, SwRI has been successfully leveraging it for industrial robotics applications," explained Shaun Edwards, a senior research engineer in SwRI's Automation and Data Systems Division. ROS (Robot Operating System) is an open-source project providing a common framework of libraries and tools for a wide range of applications, particularly in service and research robotics. In January, SwRI established the ROS-Industrial repository, an open-source resource providing a common industrial control platform to facilitate technology transfer from research labs to industry.

"Following other successful open-source projects as models, SwRI is initiating a precompetitive commercial collaborative research consortium, exclusively focused on the needs of industrial robot users," said Paul Evans, director of SwRI's Manufacturing Systems Department. RIC full membership is set at $10,000, with lesser levels of membership available (see membership table). "RIC will accelerate the development of ROS-Industrial. RIC members will work together to develop an application roadmap for ROS-Industrial, set near-term technical goals and participate in spinoff focused technical projects."

"We are excited about a multi-year, internal research program SwRI funded to capitalize on recent research and allow us to accelerate hardware integration tasks," Edwards continued. "The funding allows us to implement ROS-I interfaces for industrial robots to enable users to reuse software for advanced robotics applications. The program will also fund a significant effort to develop advanced functionality and add new capabilities to highly reliable industrial robot platforms."

To date, ROS-Industrial has demonstrated capabilities unmatched using conventional industrial robot control for applications such as material handling in dynamic environments with on-the-fly object segmentation and grasp planning http://youtu.be/_WG-45cZSUQ. Standard interfaces allow high-level software to work with any robot. ROS-Industrial supports robotic workcell visualization and simulation capabilities such as RViz, allowing system development and testing with or without physical hardware.

ROS-Industrial allows advanced 2D-vision and 3D-point cloud sensor processing. Rich software development tools (based on standard Linux tools) include universal logging, debuggers and automated coding. Multiple robot path planners and optimizations allow developers to choose and customize systems that support high-degree-of-freedom systems coordinating multiple arms.

"It's an exciting time in industrial robotics," continued Edwards. "After the economic downturn, the U.S. is now seeing a new government focus on manufacturing, a surge of venture capital spending in this area, and a trend toward returning manufacturing to the U.S. due to rising labor costs in other countries."

For more information about the ROS-Industrial Consortium, see http://rosindustrial.org/ric/default-ric.htm or contact Evans at paul.evans@swri.org or (210) 522-2994.

New Repository: kaist-ros-pkg

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From David Butterworth at Kaist on ROS-users

Hi all,

I've created some new packages for using the Webots simulator with ROS: http://www.ros.org/wiki/kaist_webots

webots_run Allows you to start Webots directly from a ROS launch file.

webots_joy_demo A new version of the Webots joystick teleop demo, using the C++ API.


Currently contains only a simple P controller with joint state publisher. The controller configuration is specified in a yaml file, making it easy to test new robot models.

Any suggestions or corrections are appreciated.


David Butterworth.

New stack: px-ros-pkg

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From Lionel Heng of the Computer Vision and Geometry Lab at ETH Zurich


I would like to submit a new repository for indexing: https://github.com/cvg/px-ros-pkg

This repository currently contains a ROS package for interfacing to the soon-to-be-released PX4Flow optical flow board (coming soon from 3D Robotics). We have plans to add a ROS interface to the PX4FMU autopilot, and software for MAV autonomy as showcased in our recent IROS paper (http://www.cvg.ethz.ch/MAV ) in the coming weeks ahead.

Best Regards, Lionel Heng

Crosspost from willowgarage.com

Clearpath Robotics aims to progress robotics development by providing universities with robust platforms for prototyping and research. To give robotics research an extra boost, Clearpath Robotics introduced the PartnerBot Grant Program this summer.

ParnerBot Pic2 small.png

The PartnerBot Grant Program is a one-year commitment during which a prestigious research team will use the Clearpath Robotics Husky A200 to pursue its research goal, publish for public review, and add code to the rapidly growing open source ROS (Robot Operating System) community. Initially aimed at donating $25,000 worth of equipment, the sheer number of applicants and outstanding quality of the submissions prompted Clearpath Robotics to increase the total value to $100,000.

The Husky A200 is a rugged, all-terrain robotic platform for rapid prototyping and research applications. In the past we've seen it used for prototyping planetary rovers, researching autonomous navigation, environment mapping, and countless other applications. The Husky A200 integrates seamlessly with the free and open source ROS robotics framework that offers full control of the Husky, including (but definitely not limited to) autonomous navigation, perception, and mapping. Using the standardized platform and open software allows researchers to cooperate, share findings, and repeat experiments.

More than 150 universities world wide showed interest in the PartnerBot Grant Program. Clearpath Robotics has received submissions from every continent on the planet (except from Antarctica) with applications ranging from mine clearing, to agricultural robots, to planetary rovers, and everything in between. With such a great turnout and impressive applications it seemed a shame to support only one research project, so Clearpath Robotics has worked feverishly over the past month to scrape together enough money to support the following 10 distinguished research teams.

  • University of California, Santa Cruz
  • University of Coimbra
  • Orebro University
  • Universidad de Chile
  • Drexel University
  • Federal University of Minas Gerais
  • University of Hohenheim
  • University of Michigan
  • Queensland University of Technology
  • University of Bremen

Clearpath Robotics would like to thank everyone who invested time and energy to submit a proposal. The judging process was tough, selecting only one would have been impossible - even 10 was difficult. To read more about the outstanding research projects and PartnerBot recipients, visit the PartnerBot site.

ROS on Toyota's HSR

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Cross Posted from the Open Source Robotics Foundation Blog

On the heels of the recent announcement that Rethink's Baxter was built on ROS, we heard today from our friends at Toyota that their new robot is also running ROS!

Toyota's Human Support Robot, or HSR, will provide assistance to older adults and people with disabilities. A one-armed mobile robot with a telescoping spine, the HSR is designed to operate in indoor environments around people. It can reach the floor, tabletops, and high counters, allowing it to do things like retrieve a dropped object or put something away in its rightful place. An exemplar of the next generation of robot manipulators, the arm is low-power and slow-moving, reducing the chance of accident or injury as it interacts with people.


And it runs ROS. Dr. Yasuhiro Ota, Manager of the Toyota Partner Robot Program, tells us that the HSR runs ROS Fuerte [http://ros.org/wiki/fuerte] and uses a number of ROS packages, including: roscpprospyrviztfstd_msgspclopencv. As for why they chose to use ROS, Dr. Ota says, "ROS provides an excellent software developmental environment for robot system integration, and it is also comprised of a number of useful ready-to-use functions."

Find this blog and more at planet.ros.org.

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