February 2015 Archives

New TurtleBot Tutorials at learn.turtlebot.com

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Thanks to the efforts of Mark Silliman, Austin Meyers, and Melissa Eaton we have a new set of tutorials for the TurtleBot targeted at making the TurtleBot and ROS in general available to the web developers in general. The tutorials include going all the way through to setting up a web interface. Find them at learn.turtlebot.com

Here's his announcement. 

Free tutorials bring robotics programming to the web developer masses
Learn.turtlebot.com provides an easy launch pad for anyone interested in robotics

If you've ever dreamed of learning to program a robot, but didn't know how or where to start, your
day just got a whole lot better -- and your next few weekends are booked.

Learn.TurtleBot.com debuted this week its free, 30-session tutorial, which promises to teach
developers how to use the Robot Operating System (ROS) to drive a TurtleBot. The latter is an open source hardware and software platform that can autonomously navigate to objects and places.

"There have been so many technical barriers to robotics from the cost to the fact that most of the literature is aimed at academics," says the tutorial's creator Mark Silliman. "I want robotics to be
accessible to anyone who is interested."

The tutorials are written at a high-school level and can be completed over a couple weekends. Each includes a video and takes about an hour to finish. By the series end, developers will be able to direct their TurtleBot to bring them coffee to their desk (view video).

While the chance to build a coffee-bot is undoubtedly exciting, Silliman developed and funded the tutorials with an even loftier aim: to help create the next generation of robotics programmers.

Silliman, a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Smartwaiver, has a long-held passion for the robotics industry and its potential.

"I want to live in a world with a robot in every home, and though we have the computing power to do so, we also need a critical mass of people studying the field," Silliman says.

He contends that robots are ready for the first wave of amateur developers to build off the early work of robotics pioneers and take the field to new heights. Software packages such as ROS as well as the relatively affordable TurtleBot, which you can buy for $1,000 or build yourself for less, have helped make robotics even more accessible.

And now the learn.turtlebot.com tutorials push the needle even further by teaching core robotics programming concepts in a fun and affordable way.

"We're standing on the shoulders of many brilliant people and engaged, innovative communities," Silliman says. "I hope this helps break down even more barriers and puts us that much closer to making the robot revolution a reality."
From Alejandro Espert of Robotnik

Robotnik, a Spanish company specialized in robot product development and robotics R&D 
services, has developed its new mobile manipulator called RB-1.

RB-1 (logo) render (1).JPG

RB-1 is a mobile manipulator designed with extensibility and modularity for research and 
application customization. The robot has been designed using a single type of the Korean 
manufacturer ROBOTIS actuators and corresponding with the product range Dynamixel PRO. 
The Dynamixel PRO servo-actuators integrate controller and servo-amplifier inside the 
actuator housing, simplifying its interconnection to 2 supply wires and 2 additional wires for a 
communication bus.

The arm has an anthropomorphic configuration of 7 DOF plus 1 DOF to elevate the torso and 
one gripper. All actuators are attached directly to the element holders with the exception of 
the second wrist axis, which transmits its torque by means of a pulley. This allows to increase 
the payload but at the same time to increase the manipulability index.

Regarding sensors, RB-1 mounts a Hokuyo URG-04LX-UG01 laser, a 2D laser range finder for navigation, localization and gyro board, and a 2DOF pan-tilt unit for the environment 
perception by means of a Microsoft Kinect/ASUS Xtion PRO Live RGBD Sensor, to recognize 
objects in the environment, but also for navigation and localization purposes.

Another advantage of RB-1 is that has completely open-source software, ROS, so everyone can contribute by uploading their own modules for development and programming.

RB-1 is conceived to R&D applications, AAL (Ambient Assisted Living), indoor mobile 
manipulation or remote handling, among others.

RB-1 has different configurations, the complete configuration of 13 DOF has a price of 46.200€, the version which has an arm of 6 DOF is around 44.000€. The mobile base platform can also be ordered separately for 12.500€.

Robotnik is pleased to announce that we have opened pre-orders of the new RB-1, if you require other configurations we will be grateful to hear your petitions.

For more information please see: http://www.robotnik.eu/manipulators/rb-one/ 

or contact María Benítez: mbenitez@robotnik.es

Darwin OP package for ROS/Gazebo available

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From Philippe Capdepuy via ros-users@

Dear ROS users,

We just published 3 packages for simulating the Darwin OP robot on Gazebo (or to use with the real robot but with some extra work):
 - https://github.com/HumaRobotics/darwin_gazebo
 - https://github.com/HumaRobotics/darwin_description
 - https://github.com/HumaRobotics/darwin_control
They have been tested on both Hydro and Indigo, but they probably work for other distributions.

We also provide a user-friendly Python API with walking capabilities.

A quick tutorial and demo can be found here:

Credits also go to Taegoo Kim and Bharadwaj Ramesh for the meshes and original URDF on which this work was based.


From Shridhar Shah

Senior Robotics Algorithm Developer position at MathWorks Inc. (USA)


Job Summary


You will develop new technologies to enable MATLAB and Simulink to work with humanoid and mobile robotics platforms. In particular, you will develop algorithms for analysing robot dynamics and for planning and controlling robot motion. You will also work closely with the team to identify trends in robotics technology in order to develop leading-edge product capabilities.




Develop MATLAB and Simulink libraries for robotics algorithms related to planning, control and kinematics

Investigate and incorporate third-party robotics libraries and tools

Participate in all stages of design, implementation, testing, and product release.

Keep up to date on the fast moving robotics technology landscape.

Demonstrate product capabilities to educators and researchers and incorporate their feedback


Minimum Qualifications


Experience with Robotics Programming

A bachelor's degree and 3 years of professional work experience (or a master's degree) is required.


Preferred Qualifications


Experience with MATLAB and Simulink

Experience implementing planning and control algorithms for multi-link rigid-body robots (e.g., inverse kinematics, PRM)

Familiarity with leading-edge approaches to robot kinematic analysis and planning

Experience with C/C++

Excellent written, verbal, and interpersonal skills

Familiarity with Robot OS (ROS) libraries for planning and control

Familiarity with physical modelling tools and SimMechanics


If you are interested in the above position, please apply online using the following link,



Introducing OpenPTrack - developers needed

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From Matteo Munaro via ros-users@

I would like to introduce OpenPTrack, an open source project for real time people tracking in RGB-D camera networks targeted towards applications in education, art, and culture (e.g. the Whorl installation, LASHP Welcome Center prototype, and this education research project.)

OpenPTrack is a joint effort of UCLA REMAP and Open Perception. Key collaborators include the University of PadovaElectroland and Indiana University Bloomington.

It consists of a collection of ROS packages whose main features are:
  • user-friendly network calibration
  • person detection from RGB/infrared/depth images
  • efficient multi-person tracking
  • UDP and NDN streaming of tracking data in JSON format
It currently supports networks of Kinect v1, SwissRanger SR4500 and stereo cameras custom-built with PointGrey cameras. Support for Kinect v2 will be added soon.

We have three  deployed multi-imager testbeds at the UCLA Lab School, UCLA Interpretive Media Laboratory, and University of Indiana, and will add a fourth this month. 

We are currently looking for developers interested in creating easy to use front-end interfaces for OpenPTrack, thus fully automating all of the steps of designing the camera network and setting up, configuring, calibrating, operating, and debugging the system.

* Required Skills: *
- Experience with C++.
- Experience with Robot Operating System (ROS).
* Nice To Have: *
- Experience developing web interfaces.
- Experience with ROS tools for developing web interfaces.
- Experience with OpenCV and PCL.
- Knowledge of people tracking algorithms.
- Knowledge of camera calibration algorithms.

In February, we are planning to launch a pilot crowdfunding campaign to help support getting OpenPTrack in the hands of more potential users, and would love to get these additional developers aboard by that time. 

For applications and any enquiries, please send an email to Jeff Burke (jburke@remap.ucla.edu) or Matteo Munaro (munaro@dei.unipd.it).

ROS Community Workshop, ERF 2015

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from Rich Walker - the Shadow Robot Company

We take ROS very seriously at Shadow - it's at the heart of our robots and systems.

As part of that, we've organised a ROS Community workshop at the European Robotics Forum this year, on Friday 13th at 16.15 in Room 2.

The workshop has three parts:
  1. Overviews of ROS - where it is, where it's going, what the Big Picture is.
  2. Lightning talks on problems in ROS now - what makes it hard or easy or you to use it? What would help?
  3. Roadmapping - what do we need and in what order? What's important?
If you use ROS, or you manage a project that relies on ROS, you should come to the workshop and contribute!

If you want to know more, or you have a definite lightning talk to give, then please get in touch. - see this link for the webpage with contact details!

ROS Answered [beta] Announcement

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From David Lu!! via ros-users@

Like Jonathan, I too started a little hack over the holiday. 

Going back to the last ROS Metrics report, I'd been wondering how many questions on ROS Answers actually get answered. This site aggregates all the information by topic. 

The site's not perfect, but it gets the point across. I know the pages load slow, and it turns out that yaml isn't the best database format for 8M of data. 

Feedback and contributions welcome!


P.S. Friendly reminder to add yourself and your institution to ROS Map (http://metrorobots.com/rosmap.html)

Jade Build Farm Kick-Off

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I wanted to give an update on the next distribution of ROS, which we are calling ROS Jade! We've been working on getting things ready for people to start releasing packages into Jade at their convenience.

We have many of the system dependencies spec'ed out for Jade and we've catalogued them in REP-0003 [1]. So far we have over 140 packages released into Jade, including many of the core ROS packages, with binaries for Ubuntu Trusty, Utopic, and Vivid [2]. You can compare what's in Jade versus other distributions as well [3].

At this point I think it is safe for maintainers to start releasing their packages into Jade. Necessarily, you'll need the packages which you depend on to be released before you can release your packages, but some recent improvements to bloom should make it easier to check that, so make sure you have bloom version 0.5.17 or greater before trying to release!

If you find that some of your dependencies are not released yet, I encourage you to work with the maintainers for those packages and ask them to do so.

The Jade release it targeted for May 2015, so we have several months to get things released and tested, but we should avoid procrastinating.

There are few things still missing for the Jade kick-off, but we are tracking them on GitHub [4].
For example, we are still working on the pre-release instructions for Jade, but I've decided to make this announcement anyways because the pre-release is designed to make sure your release doesn't break packages which depend on your packages.
Since your packages should not have any downstream dependencies yet, releasing without a pre-release right now is okay.
So, when releasing a package for the first time into Jade, releasers should run the local deb build test [5] or just release without a pre-release test.

Thanks, and happy releasing!

New Mobile Manipulator: TIAGo robot

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From the PAL Robotics Team via ros-users@

At Pal Robotics we are passionate for robotics. Today we are proud to introduce you to our latest robot the Mobile Manipulator TIAGo (Take It And Go), aimed at becoming your best research partner. 

TIAGo is a mobile research platform enabled for perception, manipulation and interaction tasks. The robot comprises a sensorized pan-tilt head, a lifting torso and an arm that ensure a large manipulation workspace. It has been designed to have a versatile hand contributing to its manipulation and interaction skills. TIAGo is flexible, configurable, open, upgradable and affordable. An advanced robot to boost research areas from low level control to high level applications and service robotics. 
It is fully compatible with ROS and furthermore it comes with multiple out-of-the-box functionalities like: 

* Multi-sensor navigation 
* Collision free motion planning 
* Detection of people, faces and objects 
* Speech recognition and synthesis 

All of which can be replaced for your own implementations: our system is open for you and adapts to your needs. 

Discover more about TIAGo at the website: 


We envision a robotic platform that will help you create service robotics solutions. As always, we welcome partners that pursue our interest in advancing the field of robotics. 

For further information contact us at tiago@pal-robotics.com. We will be pleased to answer any doubts and help you with your research. 

We look forward to hearing back from you. 

Kindest regards, 

The PAL Robotics team 

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

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