July 2013 Archives


RoadNarrows is pleased to announce the compatibility of its Hekateros family of robotic manipulators with ROS, the Robot Operating System, making them easier than ever to use in research and light manufacturing. Developed by the Open Source Robotics Foundation, ROS provides a standardized framework allowing easy integration of robots, sensors, and computing platforms to solve complex problems through the combination of simple ROS-enabled components.

Hekateros manipulators are available for sale in 4DOF (articulated planar arm) and 5DOF (articulated planar arm + rotating base) configurations. The Hekateros platforms are ideal for applications and research in robotic control systems, visual-servoing, machine intelligence, artistic installations, and light manufacturing.

Standard Hekateros models have an impressive range of motion (see below) with a fully extended reach of approximately 1m and a payload capacity of nearly 1kg. Each arm can be special-ordered to meet custom length and loading requirements in order to suit the needs of almost any application. All versions of Hekateros come with a default end-effector based on the RoadNarrows Graboid gripper, with a built-in webcam for visual-servoing applications.

The wrist and rotating base both provide continuous rotation while passing power and data (USB, video, Dynamixelâ„¢ ,GPIO and I2C) to the processor in the base. Open mechanical and electrical interfaces allow for the integration of additional sensors and actuators beyond those included on the standard arm. Add-ons may be integrated directly into the base of the robot, at an equipment deck on top of the rotating base, or at the open end-effector interface.

Hekateros manipulators are network enabled, and onboard processing is powered by the 1GHz ARM processor of the Gumstix® Overo® FireSTORM COM. This allows for autonomous operation of Hekateros in isolation from a computing infrastructure, or the ability to connect Hekateros with a powerful computing array for computationally intensive tasks. Multiple manipulators may also be configured for simultaneous and cooperative operation, and can easily be integrated with a variety of networked platforms and sensors.

The Hekateros platform is built around the powerful Dynamixelâ„¢ actuators by ROBOTISâ„¢, which provide many advanced features such as: continuous rotation through 360 degrees; high-resolution encoders; excellent torque, position, and velocity feedback and control; and an extensive low-level interface to monitor the servo state and health. On top of the Dynamixel firmware, RoadNarrows has built libraries and utilities that expose all of the features of Dynamixel servos through a clean and uniform C++ interface. Key features of the RoadNarrows Dynamixel library include virtual odometry for continuous rotation, a software PID for motion control in continuous rotation, and a command line utility (dynashell) for accessing and controlling a chain of Dynamixel servos. The Hekateros ROS packages bring the full power of Dynamixel actuators to ROS.

The Hekateros ROS interface exposes all functionality of the Hekateros manipulators as services, subscriptions and action servers. The control interface also publishes extensive state data on every aspect of the arm. The hekateros_control node conforms with ROS standards, such as the ROS industrial interface and MoveIt! motion planning suite.

In addition to the hekateros_control node, users of the Hekateros ROS interface are also provided with:

  • a graphical interface (hekateros_panel) that provides easy access to every feature of the control node,

  • numerous launch files including live demos, simulations, and integration with advanced motion planning libraries, and

  • extensive documentation in the wiki.

More detailed information about the Hekateros ROS interface is available on the wiki pages on GitHub.

The Hekateros platform was developed thanks in part to the support of the NSF SBIR program under grant number 1113964.

Please direct all inquiries to info@roadnarrows.com.

About RoadNarrows LLC

Based in Loveland, Colorado, RoadNarrows is a privately-held robotics and technologies company founded in 2002. RoadNarrows Research & Development develops intelligent peripheral components and accessories, including cameras, mobile sensor architectures, and open-source platform software, to give robotics researchers advanced time- and resource-saving tools. RoadNarrows' retail operation sells and provides technical support for some of the most popular robotic product lines used by the academic and research community world-wide.

For more information, visit: www.roadnarrows.com.


The Hekateros project main page: http://www.roadnarrows.com/Hekateros/

Hekateros for sale on the RoadNarrows Store: http://www.roadnarrows-store.com/hekateros-arm.html

Hekateros' range of motion on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13lpd655wC4

The RoadNarrows Graboid Gripper for sale on the RoadNarrows store: http://www.roadnarrows-store.com/roadnarrows-graboid-series-d.html

The Gumstix® Overo® FireSTORM COM, used in Hekateros, for sale on the RoadNarrows store: http://www.roadnarrows-store.com/gumstix-overo-firestorm-com.html

The Gumstix® main page: https://www.gumstix.com/

Dynamixelâ„¢ servos by ROBOTISâ„¢ for sale on the RoadNarrows Store: http://www.roadnarrows-store.com/manufacturers/robotis/dynamixel-servos.html

The ROBOTISâ„¢ main page: http://www.robotis.com/

The MoveIt! main page: http://moveit.ros.org/

The Hekateros ROS interface documentation wiki pages on GitHub: https://github.com/roadnarrows-robotics/hekateros/wiki

NSF GRANT SUPPORT AND DISCLAIMER - The project described above is supported by Grant Number 1113964. from the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

ROS Hydromedusa Tshirt Campaign Successful

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We have passed the 150 threshold for our Teespring Campaign and the Hydromedusa tshirts will be ordered. If you haven't ordered your yet you can still order for the for 13 more days before the campaign ends.

ROS Hydromedusa Logo and Tshirt Campaign

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With the imminent release of ROS Hydromedusa, we are happy to continue the tradition of releasing great artwork to accompany great software.


This time we're trying something new: to make ROS Hydromedusa T-shirts available to everyone, we're running a campaign on TeeSpring. This is a limited time offer; by pooling resources and ordering shirts at the same time, we can keep costs down for everyone.

Please show your support of ROS by ordering a shirt! Proceeds from shirt sales will primarily cover the cost of the logo design, with any excess to be used for future ROS maintenance and development.

It's a 3-week campaign, with 2 weeks and 6 days left. We need at least 150 shirt orders by the end of the campaign to make the purchase. Orders in the US should arrive within 2 weeks of the end of the campaign; allow an extra week for international orders.

There are a variety of men's and women's sizes and TeeSpring supports international shipping.

Get your ROS Hydromedusa Tshirt

Announcing ROS Hydromedusa Beta Release

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We are pleased to announce that ROS Hydromedusa Beta 1 is now available for download. 

ROS Hydro will be the transition distribution from the old 6 month cycle to the new 12 month cycle as discussed previously on ros-users@. 

Hyrdro marks the first widespread deployment of packages built on using the new catkin infrastructure.  So far over 500 packages are released and building in Hydro using catkin. 

What's in ROS Hydro

There have been many packages upgraded.  The Hydro release includes updates to core libraries including Gazebo 1.9, PCL 1.7, and tf2.  For packages with major updates there is a migration guide available at: http://www.ros.org/wiki/hydro/Migration

(Package maintainers please update the migration guide with any major changes from your packages.)

For the status of the builds in Hydro you can visit: http:// www.ros.org/debbuild/hydro.html 

REP Updates

The release of Hydro has been facilitated by the centeralization of releases on the rosdistro repository on GitHub, https://github.com/ros/rosdistro .This repository tracks all the releases and viewing it's history you can see the many contributors to ROS from around the world.  This repository has over 100 committers with well over 1000 pull requests serviced in under a year of operation.  

Part of what has helped make the rosdistro repository effective has been that its operation is now standardized in REP 137 http://ros.org/reps/rep-0137.html
During the Hydro development cycle many REPs have been updated.  To see all REPs visit http://ros.org/reps/rep-0000.html

A quick summary of updates to REPs is here: 
REP 100, 109, 122 have been updated for clarification 
REP 106 polled topics, has been withdrawn
REP 127 package.xml format has been accepted
REP 131 Groovy Variants has been made active
REP 132 Changelogs in packages has been accepted
REP 133 Seperation of build and source trees has been made active
REP 134 catkin_make_isolated has been made active
REP 135 Driver namespace practices has been made active
REP 136 Releasing 3rdparty packages has been made active
REP 137 ROS distribuition files has been accepted
REP 138 LaserScan standards has been made active
REP 140 package.xml format 2 is under development

Part of the process of releasing ROS which we are now formalizing is the concept of package maintainers which is distinct from package developers. These two roles are often performed by the same person, but it not necessary especially as packages become more mature.  For a summary of the responsibilities of a package maintainer see the Maintenance Guide on the wiki at: http://www.ros.org/wiki/MaintenanceGuide

Going forward we will be setting up a forum where maintainers can volunteer to maintain packages and the community can request maintainers for packages.  When this happens please consider volunteering to do so.  Right now there are a few people in the community who maintain a lot of packages.  By distributing this work across the community we can increase the sustainable size of our maintained system.  

Indigo Igloo

The next release of ROS has been chosen to be Indigo Igloo. The planning page for Indigo has been posted at: http://www.ros.org/wiki/indigo/Planning based on the new release schedule it will be the beginning of our new 12 month release cycle and will be syncronized with the Ubuntu LTS support 14.04.  

The upcoming release of Hydromedusa, along with the beginning of the development cycle for Indigo, will mark the End of LIfe for ROS Fuerte.  After the Hydro release the Fuerte buildfarm infrastructure will be torn down and no new releases will be made.  This follows our pattern of having two supported distributions plus one distribution under development at all times.  We will, however, continue to host the existing documentation and debian packages for ROS Fuerte.  

Hydromedusa Tshirt
As is tradition for ROS releases we have a great new logo from Josh Elingson.  For this release we are going to make t-shirts available to everyone. The proceeds from the t-shirt sales will cover the cost of the art work, and any additional funds will be used to cover ROS infrastructure costs and support future ROS maintainance. Look for an email early next week to see the new logo and order your own ROS Hydromedusa Tshirt.

Updated Packages

We have more than 100 new or updated packages.  see the full list below:
    Packages Added: 
ros-hydro-clearpath-base : 0.3.1
ros-hydro-desktop-full : 1.0.0
ros-hydro-force-torque-sensor-controller : 0.5.1
ros-hydro-imu-sensor-controller : 0.5.1
ros-hydro-joint-limits-interface : 0.5.1
ros-hydro-rocon : 0.5.3
ros-hydro-rosauth : 0.1.3
ros-hydro-simulators : 1.0.0
ros-hydro-turtlebot-apps : 2.1.0
ros-hydro-turtlebot-core-apps : 2.1.0
ros-hydro-turtlebot-panorama : 2.1.0

Packages Removed: 
ros-hydro-controllers-msgs : 0.4.0
ros-hydro-ros-control : 0.4.0
ros-hydro-test-roscpp : 1.9.47

Packages Updated: 
ros-hydro-actionlib-tutorials : 0.1.6 -> 0.1.7
ros-hydro-amcl : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-base-local-planner : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-carrot-planner : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-catkin : 0.5.70 -> 0.5.71
ros-hydro-clear-costmap-recovery : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-clearpath-bringup : 0.3.0 -> 0.3.1
ros-hydro-clearpath-common : 0.3.0 -> 0.3.1
ros-hydro-clearpath-teleop : 0.3.0 -> 0.3.1
ros-hydro-common-tutorials : 0.1.6 -> 0.1.7
ros-hydro-concert-conductor : 0.5.3 -> 0.5.4
ros-hydro-concert-orchestra : 0.5.3 -> 0.5.4
ros-hydro-controller-interface : 0.4.0 -> 0.5.1
ros-hydro-controller-manager : 0.4.0 -> 0.5.1
ros-hydro-controller-manager-msgs : 0.4.0 -> 0.5.1
ros-hydro-controller-manager-tests : 0.4.0 -> 0.5.1
ros-hydro-costmap-2d : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-dwa-local-planner : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-effort-controllers : 0.5.0 -> 0.5.1
ros-hydro-eigen-conversions : 1.10.4 -> 1.10.5
ros-hydro-eigen-stl-containers : 0.1.3 -> 0.1.4
ros-hydro-fake-localization : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-forward-command-controller : 0.5.0 -> 0.5.1
ros-hydro-geometry : 1.10.4 -> 1.10.5
ros-hydro-global-planner : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-hardware-interface : 0.4.0 -> 0.5.1
ros-hydro-interactive-marker-tutorials : 0.8.0 -> 0.8.1
ros-hydro-joint-state-controller : 0.5.0 -> 0.5.1
ros-hydro-kdl-conversions : 1.10.4 -> 1.10.5
ros-hydro-laser-filters : 1.6.10 -> 1.6.11
ros-hydro-librviz-tutorial : 0.8.0 -> 0.8.1
ros-hydro-map-server : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-move-base : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-move-base-msgs : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-move-slow-and-clear : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-nav-core : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-navfn : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-navigation : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-nodelet-tutorial-math : 0.1.6 -> 0.1.7
ros-hydro-pcl-ros : 1.1.1 -> 1.1.3
ros-hydro-perception-pcl : 1.1.1 -> 1.1.3
ros-hydro-pluginlib-tutorials : 0.1.6 -> 0.1.7
ros-hydro-position-controllers : 0.5.0 -> 0.5.1
ros-hydro-redis : 0.5.3 -> 0.5.4
ros-hydro-robot-pose-ekf : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-rocon-concert : 0.5.3 -> 0.5.4
ros-hydro-rocon-gateway : 0.5.3 -> 0.5.4
ros-hydro-rocon-gateway-tests : 0.5.3 -> 0.5.4
ros-hydro-rocon-hub : 0.5.3 -> 0.5.4
ros-hydro-rocon-hub-client : 0.5.3 -> 0.5.4
ros-hydro-rocon-multimaster : 0.5.3 -> 0.5.4
ros-hydro-rocon-test : 0.5.3 -> 0.5.4
ros-hydro-rocon-tf-reconstructor : 0.5.3 -> 0.5.4
ros-hydro-rocon-unreliable-experiments : 0.5.3 -> 0.5.4
ros-hydro-rocon-utilities : 0.5.3 -> 0.5.4
ros-hydro-ros-controllers : 0.5.0 -> 0.5.1
ros-hydro-rotate-recovery : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3
ros-hydro-rviz-plugin-tutorials : 0.8.0 -> 0.8.1
ros-hydro-rviz-python-tutorial : 0.8.0 -> 0.8.1
ros-hydro-srdfdom : 0.2.5 -> 0.2.6
ros-hydro-tf : 1.10.4 -> 1.10.5
ros-hydro-tf-conversions : 1.10.4 -> 1.10.5
ros-hydro-turtle-actionlib : 0.1.6 -> 0.1.7
ros-hydro-velocity-controllers : 0.5.0 -> 0.5.1
ros-hydro-visualization-marker-tutorials : 0.8.0 -> 0.8.1
ros-hydro-visualization-tutorials : 0.8.0 -> 0.8.1
ros-hydro-voxel-grid : 1.11.1 -> 1.11.3

Announcing rosinstall_generator

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From Dirk Thomas on ros-users@ 

I am pleased to announce rosinstall_generator!

The rosinstall_generator generates rosinstall files containing information about repositories with ROS packages/stacks.
It always points to released packages - either to the gbp repositories for wet packages or to the tarball of dry stacks from the SVN release repository.
(If you want to access the source repository of a package/stack you should use roslocate instead.)

It replaces the hosted web service at http://packages.ros.org/web/rosinstall/ which has been deprecated.
I have updated the from-source installation instructions at http://www.ros.org/wiki/groovy/Installation/Source to use this new tool instead of the web service.

You can find more information and examples on the ROS wiki page:

The FH Aachen is offering a ROS Summer School for all interested students in the field of Robotics, Mechatronics and Mechanical Engineering. The Summer School

is planned for the 22nd July 2013 until the 2nd of August and will end with a competition with mobile robotics. There are plenty of different topics covered by the speakers:

Localization, Mapping, Navigation, RGBD cameras, Laser Range Finders, Arduino hardware, Image processing, SLAM, IMUs and a lot more. The hands-on workshop with a lot of

hardware elements, ends in assembling a "Robot Car" which is used for the later competition. In addition, we provide access to the well known Aldebaran Nao and Clearpath Robotic's Husky hardware in order to show different ROS implementations.

The ROS Summer School is designed to teach participants about how to get started with ROS; it is created for those who have had an interest in autonomous systems but didn't quite know how to get started. With that, organizers recommend students have a basic knowledge of Linux (Ubuntu) and one programming language such as Python or C++. The two-week program is made possible through Mobile Autonomous Systems and Cognitive Robotics (MASCOR), and key players including Prof. Walter Reichert, Prof. Stephan Kallweit, Prof. Alexander Ferrein, and Prof. Ingrid Scholl. Experiences such as this allow the ROS community to grow, and we are very excited to see what comes out of this event!

For more information or to register for the ROS Summer School, visit http://www.fh-aachen.de/fileadmin/fb/fb08_maschinenbau/Pics/Flyer_ROS_Summerschool-Mail.pdf.

ROS Node for JACO

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Clearpath Robotics and Kinova Robotics have just released the first ever ROS package for the JACO Robot Arm, with assistance from Worcester Polytechnic Institue's NASA Sample Return team. The package exposes all of the functionality of the arm to ROS, so feedback from the arm is available to be published to topics inside of ROS.

Up until now, JACO Robot Arm has mainly been used as an assistive device, rather than a manipulator for research and development initiatives. However, with Clearpath's new partnership with Kinova, the JACO Robot Arm is finding new territory in research applications including aerospace and mining.

Previously, the arm could only be controlled manually or through a separate computer running Windows. Now the ROS driver, which is designed exclusively for the JACO Robot Arm, integrates the hardware and software into a single system, creating an easy-to-use and time-efficient process. For those who purchase the arm from Clearpath Robotics, it will come fully-loaded with a launch file (included in the driver), which will initialize communications with the arm and prepare it to accept commands.

The JACO Robot Arm is unique for ROS users because it is well priced and it's delivered as a complete, all-in-one package (so, no more messing around with separate hardware and software systems - customers get both, right out of the box!). Not to mention, it is one of the best looking manipulators on the market.

JACO Robot Arm is a commercial-quality, accessible robot arm that is now available to ROS users. To download the first ROS interface that works with JACO Robot Arm, go to: http://www.ros.org/wiki/jaco

PAL Robotics is proud to announce the upcoming release of our newest robotic platform REEM-C, the first commercially available biped robot from PAL Robotics. It leverages our experience developing the REEM-A and REEM-B biped robots and the commercial service robot REEM (our first ROS-compatible robot).

PAL Robotics - REEM-C.jpg

REEM-C has been developed to meet the needs of the academic community for robust and versatile robotic research platforms. This platform allows conducting research on walking, grasping, navigation, whole-body control, human-robot interaction, and more. It is integrated into ROS and Orocos (for real-time motion generation and control).

REEM-C is an adult size humanoid (165 cm), and it has 44 degrees of freedom, two i7 computers, force/torque and range finders on each feet, stereo camera, 4 microphones, and other devices that make REEM-C one of the best equipped research platforms today. Optionally, a depth camera can also be attached to the head. It also has already developed software for walking, grasping, navigation and human-robot interaction.

We would like also to announce that there are promotional conditions for orders before August 31st.

For further information about REEM-C, please contact PAL Robotics at info@pal-robotics.com, or visit REEM-C's webpage. For information on promotion conditions and inquiries, please contact business@pal-robotics.com.

Getting Groovy with the Raspberry Pi

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Cross posted from willowgarage.com

During his internship at Willow Garage and the Open Source Robotics Foundation, Paul Mathieu from the University of Tokyohas been improving ROS support for ARM platforms with a focused effort on Raspberry Pi. His work makes the installation ROS Groovy a simple task on the pint-sized platform.

Until recently, installing ROS on ARM platforms required building a large quantity of ROS software from source code, a long and tedious task. The lack of easy-to-use cross compilers meant that the software had to be built on the board itself, a time consuming process due to the limited computational power of the Raspberry Pi. Paul's work focused on providing a repository of binary packages for such boards, as well as improvements and extensions to the current build farm's capabilities, allowing for non-x86 binary packages to be easily generated.

The ROS packaging system has been reworked and a new API for the ROS distribution system has been drafted with deep extensibility in-mind. These improvements make building and packaging ROS (and non-ROS) software for PC or embedded targets an easy task, as well as facilitate the replication of build farms.

To install ROS Groovy on Raspberry Pi, please check out the following page here.

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

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