A longstanding need, which will improve the efficiency of setting up a ROS project, is the ability to import model and process data from various CAD systems. In collaboration with TU Delft last year, we proposed a ROS-I Consortium Focused Technical Project to develop a CAD data importer for ROS that could automatically convert from common CAD files to URDFs and SRDFs. While the initiative was met with great interest, the lengthy duration and fixed-price milestone contract arrangement were not sufficiently attractive to garner the investment required to launch the project. However, a strong showing by the developer community led us to believe that much of the software development work would be contributed by collaborating consortium members, if technical leadership was provided to guide and curate the development. Furthermore, we wished to expand the future vision of CAD to ROS by building it into a 3D workbench framework. This will provide a common user experience for importing and configuring sensors, Cartesian process plans, motion plans, and point cloud data in the future. To assure incremental progress, we restructured the CAD to ROS project, reorganizing it into five milestones, each approximately four months:
- URDF GUI Editor
- Process Planning
- Work Cell Planning
- Sensor Configuration and Calibration Setup
- 3D Point Cloud Importer
We also restructured the business model. There are now four types of contributors to the project:
- Technical Overseer: TU Delft will set the software architecture design goals and will review pull requests from developers.
- Sponsor: In December 2015, one of the ROS-I Consortium members pledged their support for TU Delft’s efforts.
- Developers: In exchange for helping to write the code, Consortium members will have access to the private project repository.
- Consortium Administrator: SwRI and Fraunhofer IPA will recruit developers from amongst the Consortium membership to help with coding.
For this particular Consortium project, we are implementing a business model in which only contributors from the Consortium have access to the URDF editor tool. This is an opportunity to see how productive the community can be when motivated by a little self-interest.
We need the help of ROS-I Consortium member software developers! Please contact email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org to gain access to the project and to help complete Milestone 1!