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Open Source Robotics

September 9th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The robotics community is finding new momentum as it commits more and more to the open source ethos, as OStatic reports in “Open Source Roboticists On a Path to C3P0.”

“In the open source community, there are several efforts to develop robots that look and/or act like humans, performing interesting and useful tasks. They’re not C3PO at this stage of their development, but they show tremendous promise, especially if more open source contributions are made to the projects.”

The current state of robotics reminds me of the Homebrew Computer Club, where Woz got his start and invented the personal computer. Personal robotics will probably follow a similar trajectory from hacker playground to commercial usefulness to ubiquity in the developed world.

One of the standouts in this community is the open source group Willow Garage:

Willow Garage is an open source robotics project that originated at Stanford University. Robots being developed with the project run ROS (Robot Operating System) software. The operating system comes complete with tutorials, a developer’s guide, and more–all at the link just provided.

“PR2 is the mobile hardware design for Willow Garage robots, featuring stereo and laser sensors… Stanford hosts a series of highly entertaining and interesting videos here, showing PR2 robots performing tasks such as tidying up a room and retrieving beer from a refrigerator.”

Personal robotics could be the next big growth industry. Keep an eye on this space!