ROS Gains Momentum

For those coming from a factory automation background, you may have only recently heard about ROS, the open source Robot Operating System. In the past, various “universal” robot software packages have come and gone, but if you are concerned that ROS is just the next flash in the pan -- think again!

A few weeks ago, the Open Source Robotics Foundation, curators of ROS, posted the yearly statistics for the ROS community. The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 11,000 unique IP addresses downloaded ROS packages in the month of August, compare to 8,100 last year
  • 748 total publications have cited the seminal 2009 M. Quigley et al paper about ROS, more than two times the 2012 statistics
  • 22,700 page-views-per-day average on in August
  • 32,500 thousand unique .deb packages downloaded in August
  • 1.6 million total ROS .deb packages downloaded in August

ROS is not going away; it has just hit its stride and is growing rapidly. The graph below is from last year, but it captures the trend:

Graph of publicly released and indexed ROS repositories, 2008 to 2012

Graph of publicly released and indexed ROS repositories, 2008 to 2012

Researchers at Auburn, AMT, Berkeley, Brown, CCNY, CERTH, CTU Prague, CMU, CNRC, CWRU, ETH Zurich, Fraunhofer IPA, Freiberg U., GA Tech, Johns Hopkins U., LAAS-CNRS, LANL, MIT, NASA, NCDMM, NIST, NREC, NRL, Oregon State, Osnabruck U., OSRF, Politecnico di Milano, RWTH Aachen U., Sandia Nat. Labs, Stanford, SwRI, SRI, Technalia, TU Catalonia, TU Darmstadt, TU Delft, TU Munich, U. Arizona, U. Bremen, UC Boulder, U. Genova, U. Glasgow, U. Kassel, U. Koblenz, U. Padova, U. Penn, UT Austin, U. Toronto, U. Tuebingen, UTARI, U. Tokyo, U. Wurzburg, Warsaw TU, Washington U. St. Louis, and Willow Garage have tapped into ROS. And this condensed list neglects the equally numerous for-profit research labs using ROS! Check out the ROS 5-Yrs. montage video, which captures the notable accomplishments using ROS.

Great advances in robotics are happening on the ROS platform, so wouldn’t it make sense to have an industrial version of ROS that works with existing factory automation hardware? There is! It is called ROS-Industrial and while it is only in its second year of deployment, it already works with ABB, Adept, Fanuc, Motoman, and Universal robots. Check out the ROS-I 1-Yr. montage video to see our first year’s accomplishments. Come out to meet ROS/ROS-I pioneers at our next event: Oct. 23-25 in Santa Clara at RoboBusiness!