ROS Contributor Spotlight: Allison Thackston

The success of ROS depends upon the contributions of thousands of individuals. In honor of our 10-year anniversary, we've decided to shine a light on a few of them.

Name: Allison Thackston

Company: Principal Research Scientist, Toyota Research Institute

Favorite Fictional Robot: R2-D2. "He was always looking out for Luke and seemed to always have the right tool."

How did you get into robotics?

I've always enjoyed the idea of robots helping people. I have fond memories of programming Logo when I was a kid, and of watching movies with robots in them.

How did you first hear about ROS?

I first heard about ROS when I began working at NASA on the Robonaut project. When Robonaut was given the opportunity to receive an upgrade, the team took advantage and upgraded the entire software stack. Now, a ROS-enabled robot is orbiting the earth in the International Space Station.

What is your current area of ROS development?

I currently work across many ROS packages. Toyota's Human Support Robot (HSR) is currently built on top of ROS. It's also the standard platform for the RoboCup@Home tournament and available for universities to participate

What are your favorite and least favorite things about ROS?

My favorite thing about ROS is how easy it is to collaborate using it, especially with the research community. A lot of the things I would change are being addressed in ROS 2: more reliable communications, and better control of messaging.

How would you have do things differently if you didn't have ROS?

With ROS I'm able to easily get a robot up and running. If I didn't have it I would have to either recreate my own version, or create a custom stack for each robot.

This is part of an ongoing series: ROS Contributor Spotlight

Have your own ROS story to tell? Let us know at And be sure to check back when we celebrate the 25th, 50th, and 100-year anniversaries of ROS.

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This page contains a single entry by Tully Foote published on November 6, 2017 10:14 AM.

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