Open-source robotic software advances at kickoff meeting

ROS-Industrial Consortium (RIC) kickoff meeting included 25 people representing 14 organizations interested in fostering advanced manufacturing technologies enabled by ROS-Industrial open-source software.


ROS-I Founder Shaun Edwards demonstrates pick-and-place robotic functions with ROS-I open-source programming. Courtesy: ROS-Industrial ConsortiumROS-Industrial Consortium (RIC) held a kickoff meeting on March 6 and 7 at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas, with 25 people representing 14 organizations attending. ROS-Industrial Consortium is an international network of automation R&D organizations created to foster advanced manufacturing technologies enabled by ROS-Industrial open-source software.

The meeting began with introductions to SwRI, ROS, MoveIt!, ROS-Industrial, and the consortium. Participants, mostly from industry, expressed enthusiasm about the potential for ROS-I and for an upcoming ROS motion planning application called MoveIt!, explained by Dr. Sachin Chitta from Willow Garage. The MoveIt! software framework for motion planning in ROS (a core part of the ROS platform) is scheduled to replace the Arm Navigation packages.

Via his VGo telepresence robot, Erik Nieves, technology director for Motoman Robotics America (part of Yaskawa), discussed the value of ROS-Industrial to robot original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). "ROS-Industrial is an important work. It is true: we do need to have a hard and stable version of ROS from which we can proceed. So Yaskawa has thrown our hat in with the ROS-Industrial Consortium, and we’re glad that you have too!" said Nieves.

A tour of various SwRI robotics facilities ended with five ROS-I-enabled robot demonstrations at SwRI’s Manufacturing Systems facility. HDT Robotics also showed its teleoperated portable robotic arm.

During the members' meeting, attendees presented experiences using ROS/ROS-I for industrial robotics R&D. Shaun Edwards, the founder of ROS-Industrial, presented a proposed roadmap for ROS-Industrial development. Attendees divided into work groups to provide feedback about the technical and programmatic plans of ROS-Industrial.

Robots from Universal Robots (left) and Yaskawa Motoman operate together using ROS-I open-source programming at the Automate 2013 show in Chicago. Courtesy: ROS-Industrial Consortium

Ulrich Rieser, group manager, software engineering and system integration, Robot and Assistive Systems Department at Fraunhofer IPA, gave the keynote presentation, “ROS-I European Perspective,” which outlined a roadmap for ROS-I adoption in Europe.

5 possible projects

Paul Hvass, the consortium program manager, explained how consortium Focused Technical Projects (FTPs) work, and how they enable members to share the cost of developing specific new ROS-Industrial capabilities. Consortium member "FTP champions" then presented five proposed FTP topics:

  1. A graphical programming user interface for ROS
  2. A MoveIt!-based mobile manipulation demonstrator
  3. A MoveIt!-based deburring demonstrator
  4. A force-controlled teleoperated system for deburring/grinding
  5. Improvements to a human tracker system for forklift/AGV safety.

FTPs start when a critical mass of members agrees to fund a given topic.

A ROS-Industrial training class is planned at SwRI, June 4-6, providing hands-on introduction to ROS and MoveIt!, and will culminate with hardware integration exercises with live industrial robots and peripherals. There is a cost for nonmembers. The next member meeting is in September.

- Information from ROS-Industrial Consortium was edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering and Plant Engineering,

Go Online

See presentations from the March 6 RIC Open House on the ROS-Industrial Consortium YouTube channel: ROS-I Consortium.  

Contents of the March 7 members’ meeting are posted on the RIC member’s portal, for those who have joined.

Information about MoveIt! software framework for motion planning in ROS  

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