April 2016 Archives


The ROS Industrial Consortium was established four years ago as a partnership between Yaskawa Motoman Robotics, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Willow Garage, and Fraunhofer IPA. The idea was to provide a ROS-based open-source framework for robotics applications, designed to make it easy (or at least possible) to leverage advanced ROS capabilities (like perception and planning) in industrial environments. Basically, ROS-I adds models, libraries, drivers, and packages to ROS that are specifically designed for manufacturing automation, with a focus on code quality and end user reliability.

Mirko Bordignon from Fraunhofer IPA opened the final ROSCon 2016 keynote by pointing out that ROS is still heavily focused on research and service robotics. This isn't a bad thing, but with a little help, there's an enormous opportunity for ROS to transform industrial robotics as well. Over the past few years. The ROS Industrial Consortium has grown into two international consortia (one in America and one in Europe), comprising over thirty members that provide financial and managerial support to the ROS-I community.

To help companies get more comfortable with the idea of using ROS in their robots, ROS-I holds frequent training sessions and other outreach events. "People out there are realizing that at least they can't ignore ROS, and that they actually might benefit from it," Bordignon says. And companies are benefiting from it, with ROS starting to show up in a variety of different industries in the form of factory floor deployments as well as products.

Bordignon highlights a few of the most interesting projects that the ROS-I community is working on at the moment, including a CAD to ROS workbench, getting ROS to work on PLCs, and integrating the OPC data protocol, which is common to many industrial systems.

Before going into deeper detail on ROS-I's projects, Shaun Edwards from SwRI talks about how the fundamental idea for a ROS-I consortium goes back to one of their first demos. The demo was of a PR2 using 3D perception and intelligent path planning to pick up objects off of a table. "[Companies were] impressed by what they saw at Willow Garage, but they didn't make the connection: that they could leverage that work," Edwards explains. SwRI then partnered with Yaskawa to get the same software running on an industrial arm, "and this alone really sold industry on ROS being something to pay attention to," says Edwards.

Since 2014, ROS-I has been refining a general purpose Calibration Toolbox for industrial robots. The goal is to streamline an otherwise time-consuming (and annoying) calibration process. This toolbox covers robot-to-camera calibration (with both stationary and mobile cameras), as well as camera-to-camera calibration. Over the next few months, ROS-I will be releasing templates for common calibration use cases to make it as easy as possible.

Path planning is another ongoing ROS-I project, as is ROS support for CANOpen devices (to enable IoT-type networking), and integrated motion planning for mobile manipulators. ROS-I actually paid the developers of the ROS mobile manipulation stack to help with this. "Leveraging the community this way, and even paying the community, is a really good thing, and I'd like to see more of it," Edwards says.

To close things out, Edwards briefly touches on the future of ROS-I, including the seamless fusion of 3D scanning, intelligent planning, and dynamic manipulation, which is already being sponsored by Boeing and Caterpillar. If you'd like to get involved in ROS-I, they'd love for you to join them, and even if you're not directly interested in industrial robotics, there are still plenty of opportunities to be part of a more inclusive and collaborative ROS ecosystem.

  Next up: Kai von Szadkowski (University of Bremen) Check out last week's post: MoveIt! Strengths, Weaknesses, and Developer Insight

Next ROS Summer School by FH Aachen

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From Patrick Wiesen

As mentioned in February News we are offering the next ROS Summer School from 15th till 26th of August 2016 at the University of Applied Sciences in Aachen (FH Aachen), Germany.
This year a special UAV ROS weekend (27/28th August) will complement the ROS Summer School. Over 60 participants are already registered, but there are still some hacking seats left. The registration dead line is coming weekend: 30th of April! Afterwards we will generate a waiting list for more participants. Register now!


The following subjects are covered: ROS Basics, Communication, Hardware Interfacing, Teleoperation, Transforms, Gazebo Simulation, Landmark Detection, Localization, Mapping, Navigation, Control as well as some ROS Industrial exhibition. All this can be experienced with real hardware using our mobile robots - the FH Aachen Rover - after learning some theory.

In addition to the above, it is worth mentioning the big success of our recent ROS Summer School at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, South Africa. Thanks to people there joining and supporting us. It was great fun and a nice learning atmosphere! We had more than 20 participants and they learned ROS from scratch. After one week, five teams competed with their autonomous FH Aachen Rovers on a round track including Mapping and Localization in a final challenge. After five Summer Schools it was the first time that no Rover hits a wall - congratulations!

This is what our participants just managed in one week, so let's see in August what they can do in two weeks?!

The group photo shows our participants at TUT in South Africa, our colleagues from the 3D printing Goethelab in Aachen, who held as well a Summer School at TUT and us, surrounded by happy robot enthusiasts.
Jacob Perron via ros-users@

This is an announcement for create_autonomy, a ROS driver for the iRobot Create 1 and Create 2 (Roomba 400-800 series).
Based on iRobot's Open Interface Spec, it provides access to a variety of sensor information including wheel odometry, bumpers, light sensors, and button presses. There is also interfaces for controlling the various LEDs and invoking the built-in docking behaviour.

Documentation and source code can be found on GitHub: https://github.com/autonomylab/create_autonomy

Many additional features are planned for the near future, such as a sound interface and access to the brush/vacuum motors.

Hope you enjoy!

Dave Coleman has worked in (almost) every robotics lab there is: Willow Garage, JSK Humanoids Lab in Tokyo, Google, UC Boulder, and (of course) OSRF. He's also the owner of PickNik, a ROS consultancy that specializes in training robots to destructively put packages of Oreo cookies on shelves. Dave has been working on MoveIt! since before it was first released, and to kick off the second day of ROSCon, he gave a keynote to share everything he knows about motion planning in ROS.

MoveIt! is a flexible and robot agnostic motion planning framework that integrates manipulation, 3D perception, kinematics, control, and navigation. It's a collaboration between lots of people across many different organizations, and is the third most popular ROS package with a fast-growing community of contributors. It's simple to set up and use, and for beginners, a plugin lets you easily move your robot around in Rviz.

As a MoveIt! pro, Dave offers a series of pro tips on how to get the most out of your motion planner. For example, he suggests that researchers try using C++ classes individually to avoid getting buried in a bunch of layered services and actions. This makes it easier to figure out why your code doesn't work. Dave also describes his experience in the Amazon Picking Challenge, held last year at ICRA in Seattle.

MoveIt! is great, but there's still a lot of potential for improvement. Dave discusses some of the things that he'd like to see, including better reliability (and more communicative failures), grasping support, and, as always, more documentation and better tutorials. A recent MoveIt! community meeting resulted in a future roadmap that focuses on better humanoid kinematic support and support for other types of planners, as well as integrated visual servoing and easy access to calibration packages.

Dave ends with a reminder that progress is important, even if it's often at odds with stability. Breaking changes are sometimes necessary in order to add valuable features to the code. As with much of ROS, MoveIt! depends on the ROS community to keep it capable and relevant. If you're an expert in one of the components that makes MoveIt! so useful, you should definitely consider contributing back with a plug-in from which others can take advantage.

Next up: Mirko Bordignon (Fraunhofer IPA), Shaun Edwards (SwRI), Clay Flannigan (SwRI), et al. Check out last week's post: Real-time Performance in ROS 2

Today, the ROS Community Build Tool Team has released the second catkin_tools beta, Version 0.4.0!

Previously, a quick summary:
- `catkin_tools` is an improved toolchain for building catkin workspaces
- the CLI command is `catkin build`
- it builds packages in parallel with isolated build directories (no CMake crosstalk)
- it builds "pure" CMake packages that don't use Catkin macros
- it lets you build subsets of a workspace
- it needs to be tested more before being recommended over `catkin_make`
- the documentation for all the additional features can be found here: http://catkin-tools.readthedocs.org/

The top five reasons you'll want to try Beta 2:
Either install it with pip:
pip install catkin_tools --upgrade

or install via apt-get with:
apt-get update
apt-get install python-catkin-tools

To check the version of catkin_tools you're using, run:
catkin --version

If you've installed the second beta (0.4.0), you should see:
catkin_tools 0.4.0 (C) 2014-2016 Open Source Robotics Foundation

For those new to catkin_tools, see the migration guide:

Any issues, questions, or feature requests should be posted on GitHub:

-The ROS Community Build Tool Team

ROS Kinetic Kame Tshirt and Logo Announced

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With each release of ROS we have a tradition of having a logo and making t-shirts. ROS Kinetic Kame is coming out in May. Show your ROS colors and support this tradition!  Visit the Teespring Campaign page here to order your shirt. 

Proceeds from shirt sales go to supporting the costs associated with developing and maintaining ROS, including hosting the wiki and running the build farm. 

There are both mens and womens sizes as well as hoodies, v-necks and triblends available. 

Order now and if this campaign is funded we expect the shirts to arrive approximately when ROS Kinetic Kame is released. The campaign closes on May 9th don't wait too long to order. 

Here's a high resolution version of the Kinetic logo. 


Note that we have two providers one in the US and one in Europe. The main link: http://bit.ly/KinteicKame redirects based on your IP address. If you want to access the individual pages you can visit: https://teespring.com/ros-kinectic-kame and https://teespring.com/ros-kinetic-kame-eu directly. 

ROS By Example Now Available in Chinese

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ROS By Example, the first book published on ROS, is now available in Chinese, thanks to the translation efforts of Juan Rojas, Assistant Professor of Robotics at Sun Yat-sen University, and the sponsorship of Jenssen Chang, Owner of Gaitech International Ltd., an innovative robotics solution provider based in Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei and Shanghai, and an active promoter of ROS education in Asia   The new Mandarin translation can be obtained in print from Worldwide @ TaobaoWorldDangDang.com, and JD.com.  The translation was a team effort including the following students: Liu ZhenDong, Li Ziran, Li JiaNeng, Liu Ke Shan, Peng Ye Yi, and Huang LingLing.
From Hurdle Motors

Hurdler Motors, Inc., is a startup in upstate New York that is developing an innovative self-driving personal robotic vehicle to address the unmet needs of urban dwellers, commuters, first responders and package delivery companies with disruptive capabilities and features that provide significant benefits over automobiles and public transportation in urban environments. You will be the person in charge of developing the products, bringing them to production and recruiting and leading a team of topnotch talents. We are pre-seed funding. Your talents, experience, skills and contributions will help disrupt urban transportation to improve the quality of life in cities. Hurdler Motors has IP. Its first full-size early working prototype proved out the concept and successfully passed the tests of performing key tasks for which it was built. Now we need a CTO to get seed and Series A funding.

•       Passionate about building mobile robots, seeking the truth and winning together
•       Solid understanding of robotic hardware and navigation
•       Solid practical experience
•       Core member of Executive Management
•       Smart, Innovative
•       Proven Leadership experience
•       Interested in building the brand and culture of the engineering talent
•       Legally authorized to work in the US

Job Description
•       Design the tech specs for the personal transportation bot
•       Lead hardware and software development for transportation bot.
•       Build advanced prototypes and turn them into great products
•       Recruit and manage top talent team of engineers
•       Determine and design, all architecture, software, hardware, sensors,    processors, motors, procurement, vendor selection, purchasing
•       Be part of executive team that develops product strategy
•       Steer user interface creation
•       Oversee
a.      Vision-based autonomous capabilities
b.      Networking of robots
•       Create advanced prototype for user studies and obtain feedback

•       Full Time
•       Executive Management
•       Team Leadership

Desired Skills and Experience
•       Minimum 4 years industrial experience
•       Should have completed  developing and building operating mobile robots for outdoor environments
•       Should have led the product/technology from concept through completion
•       Taken robotic project to completion
•       Should have created fully functional product
•       Experience testing robots
•       Proficiency with    using ROS (in C++ and Python).
•       Command of AI
•       Versed in 3D navigation
•       Preferably entrepreneurial experience in robotics, AI, sensors, automotive
•       Experience with testing robots in outdoor/indoor conditions

PhD or Masters Degree: Mechanical Engineering, Robotics, Automotive (EV),

•       Equity
•       Competitive salary and benefits after funding

Please contact information@hurdlermotors.com

Jackie Kay (OSRF): Real-time Performance in ROS 2

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Jackie Kay was upgraded from OSRF intern to full-time software engineer in 2014. Her background includes robotics education and path planning for autonomous lunar rovers. More recently, she's been working on bringing real-time computing to ROS 2.

Real-time computing isn't about computing at a certain speed-- it's about computing on schedule. It means that your system can return data reliably and on time, in situations where responding late is usually bad thing; and sometimes a really bad thing. Hard real-time computing is important in safety critical applications (like nuclear reactors, spacecraft, and autonomous vehicles), when taking too long thinking about something could result in a figurative or literal crash -- or both. Soft real-time computing is a bit more forgiving, in that things running behind have a cost, but the data are still usable, as with packets arriving out of order while streaming video. And in between there's firm real-time computing, where missing deadlines is definitely bad but nothing explodes (or things only explode a little bit), like on a robotic assembly line.

Making a system that's adaptable and reliable, especially in the context of commercialization, often requires real-time computing, and this is why integrating real-time compatibility is one of the primary goals of ROS 2. Jackie's keynote addresses many of the technical details underlying the ROS 2 real-time approach, including scheduling, memory management, node design, and communications strategies. To illustrate the improvements that ROS 2 has over ROS, Jackie shares benchmarking results of a ROS 2 demo running in real-time, showing that even under stress, implementing a high performance soft real-time system in ROS 2 looks promising.

To try real-time computing in ROS 2 for yourself, you can download an Alpha release and play around with a demo here: https://github.com/ros2/ros2/wiki/Real-Time-Programming

ROSCon 2015 Hamburg: Day 1 - Jackie Kay: Real-time Performance in ROS 2 from OSRF on Vimeo.

Next up: Dave Coleman (University of Colorado Boulder) Check out last week's post: State of ROS 2


ROS has been an enormously important resource for the robotics community. It turned eight years old at the end of 2015, and is currently on its ninth official release. As ROS adoption has skyrocketed (especially over the past several years), OSRF, together with the community, have identified many specific areas of the operating system that need major overhauls in order to keep pace with maturing user demand. Dirk Thomas, Esteve Fernandez, and William Woodall from OSRF gave a preview at ROSCon 2015 of what to expect in ROS 2, including multi-robot systems, commercial deployments, microprocessor compatibility, real time control, and additional platform support.

The OSRF team shows off many of the exciting new ROS 2 features in this demo-heavy talk, including distributed message passing through DDS (no ROS master required), performance boosts for communications within nodes, quality of service improvements, and ways of bridging ROS 1 and ROS 2 so that you don't have to make the leap all at once. If you'd like to make the leap all at once anyway, the Alpha 1 release of ROS 2 has been available since last September, and Thomas ends the talk with a brief overview of the roadmap leading up to ROS 2's Alpha 2 release. As of April 2016, ROS 2 is on release Alpha 5 ("Epoxy"), and you can keep up-to-date on the roadmap and release schedule here.

ROSCon 2015 Hamburg: Day 1 - Dirk Thomas: State of ROS 2 - demos and the technology behind from OSRF on Vimeo.

Next up: Jackie Kay (OSRF) & Adolfo Rodríguez Tsouroukdissian (PAL Robotics) Check out last week's post: Lightning Talk highlights

New node: face_detection_tracking

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From Philippe Ludivig via ros-users@

I build a face detection and tracking system, which I would like to add to the repository.

A more detailed explanation and some example videos can be found here:

The code can be found on github:

I have added some documentation here:

As a side note, I initially tried the ROS package proposal process:
I am not sure if this documentation is still up to date, but since nobody responded, i guess it should be corrected/removed.

ROSCon 2016 location announced!

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Today may be April 1st, but this is no April Fools' Joke: ROSCon 2016 will take place in Seoul, South Korea between October 8th and 9th! We're very excited to get the ROS community together again to share all of the exciting work that has happened over the last year. ROSCon will directly precede IROS, which is in nearby Daejeon, Korea this year. If you're already planning to attend IROS, just tack on a couple extra days and join us in Seoul!

Stay tuned to the ROSCon 2016 website for updates and submission deadlines. We look forward to seeing you in Seoul later this year!

ROSCon: Lightning Talk Highlights

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he growing popularity of ROSCon means that it's not always possible to schedule presentations for everyone that wants to give one. In addition, many people have projects that they'd like to share, but don't need a full twenty minutes to present. That's why forty minutes of each day at ROSCon are set aside for any attendee to present anything they want; all in a heartlessly rigid three-minutes-or-less format. Here are a few highlights:

Talk 1 (00:05 -- 02:15) Víctor Mayoral Vilches, Erle Robotics

Victor is the CTO and co-founder of Erle Robotics. The Erle-Brain 2 is an open source, open hardware controller for robots based on the Raspberry Pi 2. It runs ROS, will support ROS 2, and can be used as the brain for all kinds of different robots, including the Erle Spider, a slightly misnamed hexapod that you can buy for €599.

Talk 3 (06:55 -- 10:00): Andreas Bihlmaier, KIT

Andreas works on robot-assisted surgery using ROS at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. KIT has a futuristic operating room full of robots and sensors designed to help human doctors and nurses through positional tracking, augmented reality, and direct robotic assistance. Andreas is also interested in collaborating with people on ROS Medical, which doesn't exist yet but has a really cool logo anyway.

Talk 10 (29:20 -- 31:30) Jochen Sprickerhof, Universitat Osnabrück

Through the efforts of Jochen Sprickerhof and Leopold Avellaneda, there are now ROS packages available upstream in Debian unstable and Ubuntu Xenial that can be installed from the main Debian and Ubuntu repositories. The original ROS packages have been modified to follow Debian guidelines, which includes splitting packages into multiple pieces, changing names in some cases, installing to /usr according to FHS guidelines, and using soversions on shared libraries.

ROSCon 2015 Hamburg: Day 1 - Lightning Talks from OSRF on Vimeo.

Next up: Dirk Thomas, William Woodall (OSRF) & Esteve Fernandez Check out last week's post: Ralph Seulin of CNRS

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

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