December 2015 Archives

Marble Looking for Awesome Robotics Software Engineers

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From Emily Spady via ros-users@

We're Marble - a scrappy early-stage robotics startup based in San Francisco that designs, builds, and operates robots for last mile logistics - and we're looking for one of our first core robotics software engineers.

You are joining very early and will have a huge amount of responsibility, impact, and room for growth. You must be able to move fast and get things done. Expect to be mostly in ROS writing C++ with a healthy amount of scripting in python and/or node. You should be versed in perception, navigation/path-planning, and state estimation of mobile robots. Experience with deployed outdoor robots is a huge bonus - expect to spend a fair bit of time in the streets with us (and the robot, of course).

If you think you're an awesome fit, apply here:

Laser Scan Matchers - release

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From Isaac Saito via ros-users@

CCNY's laser-related utility, scan_tools[1], has been in source space
for 5 years since ROS Electric episode. Now it strikes back in the
binary galaxy!

Please see REAME for the installation.

**Those who build from source** are advised to adjust to the way
suggested in README above; recent work changed the way how one of the
depended libraries gets built (*1).

Credit goes to Kei Okada, Carlos Jaramillo for release work, Andrea
Censi for providing help for his CSM library, and Ivan Dryanovski for
the original creation of these ROS packages.


*1...To build one of the included package, laser_scan_matcher[2], its
dependency CSM[3] used to be downloaded and built during the build
time. Upon a trial to conform to ROS buildfarm usage, it's now
separated and released as a "3rd party package"[4].

From Brad Powers via ros-users@

Locus Robotics is developing a robotic logistics solution for the ecommerce fullfillment industry.   Locus recently came out of stealth mode and announced its fulfillment solution. for more detail or the article in wired.com

We're looking for robotics software developers with experience in any of: robot localization, navigation, perception, or controls to join our team.  Our ideal candidate will have ROS experience and be comfortable developing in C++ and Python.

Candidates interested in full-time employment or consulting work either local to Andover, MA or remote should get in touch by sending an email to  We look forward to hearing from you!

ROS Web Services

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From Anis Koubaa via ros-users@

I have developed ROS Web Services to provide new abstractions to ROS using SOAP and REST Web services. The objective was to provide an additional software abstraction layer on top of ROS to allow a seamless interaction with ROS even for non-roboticians. We can say that ROS Web services is another alternative to rosbridge and rosjs which use the Web to interact with ROS. 

Using ROS Web services layer allow any developer with no background on robotics to develop Web service client (SOAP or REST) to monitor and control ROS-enabled robot through simple interfaces.  

paper presenting ROS Web services  is published in The Journal of Software Engineering for Robotics. In the paper, I present an object-oriented design of software meta-models for the integration of both Web services into ROS and we validate it through a real implementation on a service robot. Implementation was performed using ROSJAVA under Hyrdo version.

A video illustration can be seen here:

A brief description is also available here

I still did not release the code due to lack of time, but should post it on GITHUB soon. Any comment on this will be welcome. 
We are working now on extending ROS Web services with new features and we plan to apply them in ROS-enabled drones.

ROS 2 alpha3 (Cement)

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We're happy to announce the release of ROS 2 alpha3, code-named Cement!

Installation instructions and tutorials designed to exercise new
features in ROS 2 are in the wiki:

To get an idea of what's in (and what's not in) this release, be sure
to read the overview page:

From that page, an important caveat that will persist for the next few
alpha releases:
As the "alpha" qualifier suggests, this release of ROS 2 is far from
complete. You should not expect to switch from ROS 1 to ROS 2, nor
should you expect to build a new robot control system with ROS 2.
Rather, you should expect to try out some demos, explore the code, and
perhaps write your own demos.

We're now on a ~6-week cadence for alpha releases.  We're continually
updating the roadmap to forecast what will be included in each alpha

As always, we invite you to try out the new software, give feedback,
report bugs, and suggest features (and contribute code!):
From Victor Mayoral Vilches via ros-users@

For the last months we provided several training sessions on how to use our brains and robots based in ROS. While doing so we noticed that many people struggled at understanding ROS so we started exploring a way to make this process easier.

We prototyped different concepts and decided that ideally wanted to reach high schools students. At this point we removed the assumption of "coding skills" from the equation which made us look into systems like Scratch for robot programming. After taking inspiration from previous work we are happy to present robot_blocky: a multiplatform, web-based tool for programming robots and drones that use ROS. 

Here's a short clip that introduces robot_blocky: Previously called ROSimple

We like to think of robot_blocky as a simple way to program robots using ROS. Code is available at and there's a first iteration of documentation at

ROS Turns 8

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Thumbnail image for ROS 8 Years.png
Eight years ago, Morgan Quigley, Eric Berger and Andrew Ng published a paper that was not about ROS. It was about STAIR, the STanford Artificial Intelligence Robot, which used a library called Switchyard to pass messages between software modules to perform complex manipulation tasks like stapler grasping. Switchyard was a purpose-built framework that was designed to be modular and robot-independent, and it was such a good idea that in 2009, "ROS: An Open-Source Robot Operating System" was presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Japan. As of this month, the paper introducing ROS has been cited 2,020 times, an increase of more than 50% over last year.

The popularity of one single paper is only a minor indicator of the popularity of the robot operating system that it introduced. At eight years old, ROS is growing faster than ever, and helping the robotics community to grow along with it. We're especially excited to see how brand new startups have been taking advantage of the open source nature of ROS to help them develop useful, reliable robots that are creating entirely new markets. In 2015 alone, more than $150 million in VC funding (that we know of) was invested in businesses that utilize ROS.

Large, established companies have been taking more and more notice of ROS as well. At ROSCon this year, Fetch Robotics was joined as a platinum sponsor by Ubuntu, and a record number of gold sponsors included NVIDIA, Bosch, and Qualcomm and attendees from companies such as BMW, DJI, Intel and more. ROSCon 2015 was by far the largest conference we've ever had: it sold out weeks in advance.  Clearly next year we're going to have to find a much bigger venue to make room for more attendees, more speakers, and more exhibitors.

Taking a look at how much our community has grown this year, it's easy to see why ROSCon has become so popular: it's a reflection of the enthusiasm and engagement of the ROS user base. In May 2015 alone, nearly nine million ROS packages were downloaded from over 70,000 unique IP addresses, and these numbers don't even count mirrors. This suggests that ROS probably has hundreds of thousands of active users. We also have a very robust developer community: 1,840 people have contributed to ROS' 10 million lines of code, averaging 20 commits per day. The ROS wiki has gotten 10% bigger since last year, and there are over 11,000 users on ROS Answers, a 32% increase over last year, with a total of more than 5,000 questions answered. It's numbers like these that make us so confident in the long term future of ROS.

Counting ROS
Because of the nature of the ROS license, we actually don't know how many users, robots, and developers there are utilizing ROS.  Many of the numbers that we are citing throughout are likely to be much larger.  For example, we specifically know of approximately 80 types of robots using ROS, but almost every day we hear about new ones.  And not every company using ROS discloses so publicly, so our estimates on venture capital investment can be better characterized as lower bounds than estimates.

If you're not part of the ROS community yet, there's never been a better time to get involved. Even if you don't have experience with robots or programming, there's a wide variety of low-cost robots and helpful online tutorials that can get you started, and we're also delighted to announce (just in time for the holidays!) that O'Reilly Media has published "Programming Robots with ROS: A Practical Introduction to the Robot Operating System," by Morgan Quigley, Brian Gerkey, and Bill Smart, which will take you from zero to ROS expert in just 448 pages.

Learning ROS will allow you to do all kinds of cool stuff with more than 80 robotic platforms. You can choose from the capable, affordable TurtleBot, one of the many sophisticated humanoid robots that competed in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, or even NASA's Robonaut, currently undergoing testing on the International Space Station. Robots powered by ROS are everywhere, and here are just a few of them:

For full frame clips see the long version of the montage. 

Of course, we have no idea how many robots are actually running ROS, or how many people or companies are using it, because ROS is open source and completely free. We're often surprised to learn that cutting edge robots that we're already familiar with are powered by ROS, as when BMW announced at ROSCon that they've been using ROS in their autonomous cars for the past few years. We weren't at all surprised to hear why BMW chose ROS for its autonomous driving research, though: they appreciate its popularity, its stability and reliability based on a large user base, the fact that it makes it easy to collaborate, and its open source nature. 

As the ROS community has grown, various special interest groups have organized to promote ROS for specific application domains. The ROS Industrial Consortium is one such group.  ROS-I is a software library that builds on ROS and leverages its power and flexibility to control manufacturing automation equipment including industrial robot arms. It is supported by the 36-member organizations comprised of companies such as 3M, ABB, BMW, Ford, Boeing, Siemens and more.  Representatives from Boeing, Caterpillar, Yaskawa and more speak on behalf of ROS and ROS-I in this video.

2016 is poised to be the biggest year ever for ROS, and we'd like to highlight two things that are worth getting particularly excited about. The first is ROS 2.0, which we've been developing for the past few years. ROS 2 will support the growth of the ROS community by making it much easier to work with small embedded systems, teams of multiple robots, and robots that require real-time control. We'd also like to make sure you're familiar with Robotics Fast Track (RFT), which is  a program that we're working on with DARPA. It's an easy way for you to get government funding for your awesome robotics ideas without having to give up any of your IP, and absolutely anyone can apply. 

We write these anniversary posts to help give you a sense of how ROS has a whole has been doing over the past year, but we'd certainly encourage you to find out for yourself, by getting involved. Write or edit a Wiki page. Answer a question on ROS Answers. Come to ROSCon. And, when you're ready, think about helping to maintain ROS itself, or even contributing a brand new ROS package. OSRF is doing great, but the long-term success of ROS depends on all of the incredibly awesome ROS users themselves. If you're already an active part of the ROS community, we can't thank you enough, and if you're not, think about it: you can help ROS grow and thrive for eight more years, and beyond.

New book: "ROS Robot Programming" in Japanese

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From Yoonseok Pyo

I am pleased to announce a new book "ROS Robot Programming", which was released by Kurazume Laboratory ( It was designed to ease the learning curve for new Japanese ROS users. We hope to bring up new ROS contributors in Japanese. Also, to help ensure that the book is broadly useful to the community, electronic copies (PDF files) are available for free from the following website.

This book is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC). Also, the contents, figures, source code of this books have published all on the next Github repository. If you find a bug in the book or code, please report it here. :)

The contents of this book is as follows:
1. ROS, Robot Operating System
2. Installing the ROS in Desktop PC
3. ROS Terms, Communication, File and Build System, Build and Running
4. ROS Commands
5. ROS Tool (RViz, rqt)
6. ROS Basic Programming (Message, Topic, Service, Parameter)
7. How to Use the Package
8. How to Use the Sensors on ROS
9. How to Use the Mobile Robot (Kobuki) and Simulation
10. SLAM and Navigation
11. Robot Arm (Dynamixel Servo, MoveIt!)

Total pages: 340

More information about this book can be found on ROS wiki page.

From Paul Bouchier via ros-users@

I'm pleased to announce the release of ROS documentation and source code for the swiftnav_piksi package. 

This package is a ROS release of a driver for Swift Navigation's Piksi RTK GPS receiver module. A pair of Piksi modules connected by a wireless link provides the location of each receiver relative to the other with accuracy as good as a couple of centimetres when there's a clear view of the sky. In addition, each Piksi module provides its location with typical GPS accuracy (about 3 meters). Often, one module is a stationary base station, which may optionally be located at a surveyed point, while the other is mounted on a rover and provides ROS navigation software with a highly accurate position relative to the base station.

RTK GPS has been around for a long time, however the Piksi devices hit a new low price point at under $1000/pair.

The documentation is at, and source and the standard github bug lists etc are at

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