Robot Operating System
Melodic Morenia Logo
Cart pushing simulation in RVIZ
|Original author(s)||Willow Garage|
Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Melodic Morenia / 23 May 2018
|Written in||C++ or Python|
|Operating system||Linux, MacOS (experimental), Windows 10|
|Type||Robotics suite, OS, library|
Robot Operating System (ROS) is robotics middleware (i.e. collection of software frameworks for robot software development). Although ROS is not an operating system, it provides services designed for a heterogeneous computer cluster such as hardware abstraction, low-level device control, implementation of commonly used functionality, message-passing between processes, and package management. Running sets of ROS-based processes are represented in a graph architecture where processing takes place in nodes that may receive, post and multiplex sensor, control, state, planning, actuator, and other messages. Despite the importance of reactivity and low latency in robot control, ROS itself is not a real-time OS (RTOS). It is possible, however, to integrate ROS with real-time code. The lack of support for real-time systems has been addressed in the creation of ROS 2.0.
Software in the ROS Ecosystem can be separated into three groups:
- language-and platform-independent tools used for building and distributing ROS-based software;
- ROS client library implementations such as roscpp, rospy, and roslisp;
- packages containing application-related code which uses one or more ROS client libraries.
Both the language-independent tools and the main client libraries (C++, Python, and Lisp) are released under the terms of the BSD license, and as such are open source software and free for both commercial and research use. The majority of other packages are licensed under a variety of open source licenses. These other packages implement commonly used functionality and applications such as hardware drivers, robot models, datatypes, planning, perception, simultaneous localization and mapping, simulation tools, and other algorithms.
History and milestones
- ROS was started by borrowing the best practices from many early open source robotic software frameworks including switchyard by the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in support of the Stanford AI Robot STAIR (STanford AI Robot) project.
- January. Willow Garage hires first employees: Jonathan Stark, Melonee Wise, Curt Meyers, and John Hsu
- 7 November 2007: First commit of ROS code to SourceForge
- Development was performed primarily at Willow Garage, a robotics research lab, when Eric Berger and Keenan Wyrobek, the founders of the Stanford Personal Robotics Program, left Stanford to start the Personal Robotics Program at Willow Garage. During that time, researchers at more than twenty institutions collaborated with Willow Garage engineers in a federated development model.
- 2/10/2009: ROS 0.4 Mango Tango released
- 2/16/2009: RVIZ first documented
- 5/12/2009: First published paper on ROS: ROS: an open-source Robot Operating System 5/12/2009 (Authors: Morgan Quigley, Ken Conley, Brian Gerkey, Josh Faust, Tully Foote, Jeremy Leibs, Rob Wheeler, Andrew Y Ng)
- 8/16/2009: ROS.org comes online
- 12/2/2009: First ROS tutorials released
- 1/22/2010: ROS 1.0 released
- 3/30/2010: First autonomous car running ROS announced with UT Austin
- 5/4/2010: Willow Garage awards PR2 to 11 institutions
- 5/29/2010: First drone using ROS, from GRASP Lab at U Penn
- 8/19/2010: First use of ROS on Lego Mindstorms
- 9/7/2010: PR2 robots made available for commercial purchase
- 1/26/2011: First public appearance of TurtleBot, at Homebrew Robotics Club
- 2/15/2011: Introduction of ROS Answers
- 4/18/2011: Willow Garage announces TurtleBot
- 5/11/2011: First pure Java implementation of ROS announced at Google I/O
- 5/5/2011: ROS surpasses 100 repositories
- 100th repository is rl-texplore-ros-pkg from the University of Texas at Austin
- 11/8/2011: 4th anniversary of ROS and video compilation published
- 4/16/2012: Willow Garage spins out Open Source Robotics Foundation
- 4/17/2012: DARPA awards software contract to Open Source Robotics Foundation
- 5/19–20/2012: First ROSCon held in Saint Paul, MN
- 9/4/2012: First book on ROS published. ROS By Example, by Patrick Goebel
- 9/17/2012: First commercial robot based on ROS released by Rethink Robotics
- 11/7/2012: Five year anniversary of ROS, with video compilation
- 12/3/2012: ROS now running on every continent
- February 2013, ROS stewardship transitioned to the Open Source Robotics Foundation.
- 3/12/2013: 10,000 questions asked on ROS Answers
- 5/11-12/2013: ROSCon 2013 takes place in Stuttgart, Germany
- 6/18/2013: Virtual Robotics Challenge takes place, the virtual stage of the DARPA Robotics Challenge
- August 2013, a blog posting announced that Willow Garage would be absorbed by another company started by its founder, Suitable Technologies.
- 12/3/2013: ROS.org released
- 1/15/2014: Support responsibilities for the PR2 created by Willow Garage taken over by Clearpath Robotics
- 2/7/2014: ROS Answers Reaches 15,000 Questions
- 6/6/2014: ROS Kong, the first international ROS user group meeting
- 9/1/2014: First robot in space running on ROS, the Robonaut 2 on the International Space Station
- 9/12–13/2014: ROSCon 2014 takes place in Chicago. Program here.
- Industry attendees surpass academia attendees for first time
- 12/21/2014: First ROS meetup in Korea
- 6/9/2015: DARPA Robotics Challenge takes place. Out of the 23 DRC Finals teams, 18 teams use ROS and 14 teams use Gazebo
- 7/23/2015: First ROS Summer School in China
- 10/3/2015: ROSCon 2015.
- 11/3/2015: ROS 2 Alpha released
- 11/7/2015: Eighth anniversary of ROS, and video compilation
- 09/09/2015 The Construct Launched ROS Development Studio. The cloud-based service utilizes Robot Operating System (ROS) to offer developers a place to develop and test robotics applications. 
- 12/25/2015: Book release: Programming Robots with ROS: A Practical Introduction to the Robot Operating System
- 2/18/2016: First Danish ROS meetup
- 7/22/2016: Second ROS Summer School in China
- 9/01/2016: The Construct Launched of Robot Ignite Academy. The Cloud based academy utilizes Robot Operating System (ROS)and Gazebo to teach ROS online 
- 9/15/2016: OSRF announces collaboration with Toyota Research Institute
- 10/7/2016: Bosch underwrites full-time position at OSRF
- 3/21/2017: First Ukrainian ROS Meetup
- 5/16/2017: Open Source Robotics Foundation changed its name to Open Robotics.
- 7/22/2017: Third ROS Summer School in China
- 9/21/2017: ROSCon 2017. Program here.
- 5/23/2018: ROS Melodic Morenia
- 7-8/07/2018: ROS Developers Conference (ROSDevCon). The worldwide conference for developers to learn from experts how to program robots with ROS
- 9/28/2018: Microsoft ported Core ROS to Windows 10
- 9/29/2018: ROSCon 2018 in Madrid.
- 11/26/2018: Amazon launches AWS RoboMaker. The cloud-based service utilizes Robot Operating System (ROS) to offer developers a place to develop and test robotics applications.
ROS areas include:
- a master coordination node
- publishing or subscribing to data streams: images, stereo, laser, control, actuator, contact sensor, etc.
- multiplexing information
- node creation and destruction
- nodes are seamlessly distributed, allowing distributed operation over multi-core, multi-processor, GPUs, and clusters
- parameter server
- test systems
ROS package application areas will include:
- object identification
- segmentation and recognition
- Face recognition
- gesture recognition
- motion tracking
- motion understanding
- structure from motion (SFM)
- stereo vision: depth perception via two cameras
- mobile robotics
ROS-Industrial is an open-source project (BSD (legacy) / Apache 2.0 (preferred) license) that extends the advanced capabilities of ROS to manufacturing automation and robotics. The ROS-Industrial repository includes interfaces for common industrial manipulators, grippers, sensors, and device networks. It also provides software libraries for automatic 2D/3D sensor calibration, process path/motion planning, applications like Scan-N-Plan, developer tools like the Qt Creator ROS Plugin, and training curriculum that is specific to the needs of manufacturers. ROS-I is supported by an international Consortium of industry and research members. The project began as a collaborative endeavor between Yaskawa Motoman Robotics, Southwest Research Institute, and Willow Garage to support the use of ROS for manufacturing automation, with the GitHub repository being founded in January 2012 by Shaun Edwards (SwRI). Currently, the Consortium is divided into three groups; the ROS-Industrial Consortium Americas (led by SwRI and located in San Antonio, Texas), the ROS-Industrial Consortium Europe (led by Fraunhofer IPA and located in Stuttgart, Germany) and the ROS-Industrial Consortium Asia Pacific (led by Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and located in Singapore).
The Consortia supports the global ROS-Industrial community by conducting ROS-I training, providing technical support and setting the future roadmap for ROS-I, as well as conducting pre-competitive joint industry projects to develop new ROS-I capabilities.
ROS releases may be incompatible with other releases and are often referred to by code name rather than version number. The major releases so far are:
Ports to robots and boards
- ABB, Adept, Fanuc, Motoman, and Universal Robots are supported by ROS-Industrial
- Baxter at Rethink Robotics, Inc.
- BeagleBoard. The robotics lab of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium has ported ROS to the Beagleboard
- HERB developed at Carnegie Mellon University in Intel's personal robotics program
- Husky A200 robot developed (and integrated into ROS) by Clearpath Robotics
- PR1 personal robot developed in Ken Salisbury's lab at Stanford
- PR2 personal robot being developed at Willow Garage
- Raven II Surgical Robotic Research Platform
- rosbridge protocol and server Brown University developed the rosbridge protocol to enable any robot or computing environment to integrate with ROS using JSON-based messaging, such as for common web browsers, Matlab, Microsoft Windows, OS X, and embedded systems
- Shadow Robot Hand – A fully dexterous humanoid hand.
- STAIR I and II robots developed in Andrew Ng's lab at Stanford
- SummitXL: Mobile robot developed by Robotnik, an engineering company specialized in mobile robots, robotic arms, and industrial solutions with ROS architecture.
- Nao humanoid: University of Freiburg's Humanoid Robots Lab developed a ROS integration for the Nao humanoid based on an initial port by Brown University
- UBR1 developed by Unbounded Robotics, a spin-off of Willow Garage.
- Raspberry Pi: image of ubuntu Mate with ROS by Ubiquity Robotics; installation guide for Raspbian
- ROSbot: autonomous robot platform by Husarion
- Webots: robot simulator integrating a complete ROS programming interface.
ROS contains many open source implementations of common robotics functionality and algorithms. These open source implementations are organized into "packages". Many packages are included as part of ROS distributions, while others may be developed by individuals and distributed through code sharing sites such as github.
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