Q: Is ROS-Industrial compatible with ROS?

A: Yes!


Q: Will it always be compatible with ROS?

A: Yes, though it may lag behind in terms of the ROS release schedule.


Q: How is ROS-I different than ROS?

A: ROS-I builds on ROS by adding Unified Robot Description Formats (URDFs), interface libraries (drivers), and capabilities (packages) that are useful to manufacturing automation. ROS-I relies on the ROS core and is fully compatible with “all things ROS." Besides industrial interoperability, ROS-I focuses on code quality and reliability, because those aspects are important to the manufacturing automation world. To that end, ROS-I includes automatic code quality metrics that inform users and developers about the state of maturity of the code for a given package.


Q: What problem does ROS-I solve?

A: ROS-I solves many problems that will lead to growth of industrial robot use in new application areas:

  • It makes automation interoperable. Manipulators, end effectors, perception systems/sensors, mobility platforms, and peripherals can all speak one language (ROS messages) and interoperate regardless of OEM brands or communication bus.
  • It provides advanced capabilities as encapsulated modular libraries for free (like ROS), so that the best technology can be disseminated without the impedance of proprietary vendor-lock, retraining, or price tag.
  • It provides oversight and structure to the open-source development of manufacturing automation software. Code included in the project is reviewed and automatically assessed for quality metrics.
  • It provides a conduit for academic research to be vetted and quickly implemented within industry.


Q: Why develop ROS-Industrial as an open-source project?

A: Open-source is attractive for so many reasons:

  • User-generated content creates value for the whole community and signals the immediate priorities of the user base to all ROS-I developers.
  • User testing will find and patch bugs quickly.
  • Users control their own destiny. If a feature is needed, users can always add or change the source code to suit their own purposes.
  • Open-source, BSD/Apache licensed, code makes it easy for OEMs to adapt ROS-I functionality into their products, thus commoditizing advanced features/functionality and minimizing barriers to interoperability.
  • The ROS-I open-source community can, and has come together, to share technologies and work towards a common goal.


Q: Does ROS-I compete with ROS?

A: No, it extends ROS to manufacturing automation while maintaining compatibility with ROS and continuing to use/support the ROS core.


Q: Is ROS-I a product?

A: ROS-I is open-source, just like ROS. Because it is BSD/Apache licensed, anyone can embed it in a product for free, or even re-brand it and sell it.


Q: Is ROS-Industrial suitable for real-time control?

A: Like ROS, ROS-I nominally runs on Ubuntu Linux, which is not a real-time OS. ROS-I is fast enough to run closed-loop with perception systems for manufacturing automation applications, but (at least for now) ROS-I must be used as a high-level controller in conjunction with a low-level real-time controller (usually the one from the OEM), which closes servo feedback loops and provides safety behavior (e.g. an E-stop).


Q: How is ROS-I supported, financially?

A: Initially, ROS-I was supported by internal research and development funds from Southwest Research Institute. ROS-I is in transition to being fully supported by the ROS-I Consortium and other funding sources.


Q: Does ROS-I compete with ROS in any way?

A: ROS-I is targeted to meet the needs of manufacturing automation and is not intended to compete with ROS, which generally focused on service and research robotics (e.g., PR2). SwRI and RIC (ROS-Industrial Consortium) will strive to support, improve, and utilize the ROS core and ROS programming tools. ROS-I complements ROS by extending the use of ROS into the manufacturing automation.


Q: Can I develop closed-source software for ROS-I and sell it for profit?

A: Yes! We desire for the ROS-I community to foster all manner of new businesses selling ROS-I compatible software nodes, development tools, GUIs, support and integration services.


Q: Is ROS-I for industrial-grade products sold in the retail market?

A: ROS-I targets manufacturing automation that is used to fabricate/produce products. ROS-I is meant to be used by businesses to improve their manufacturing productivity.


Q: Can I use the ROS-I logo?

A: The ROS-Industrial name and logo are trademarked by SwRI. Permission to use them is required, but generally given for most uses (for permission, email Deb.Schmid@SwRI.org).


Q: How can I get technical support for ROS-I?

A: Please refer to the Tech Support page.


Q: How do I contribute?

A: To contribute code or learn about ongoing coding efforts in which you can take part, email the developers list at: swri-ros-pkg-dev@googlegroups.com.


Q: Do I have to replace my controller with a ROS-I controller?

A: No, ROS-I is not a replacement for an industrial robot controller. ROS-I communicates with an existing industrial controller.


Q: When will ROS-I run on Windows?

A: There are plans to support Windows after ROS 2.0 is released (reference: slide 3 here). Further information regarding ROS 2.0 development can be seen/followed over at ROS Discourse here.


Q: Is ROS-I a "walled garden"?

A: No. ROS-I Repo is 100% Apache 2.0/BSD FOSS.


Q: Do Consortium projects break continuity with the rest of ROS?

A: Only rarely have Consortium projects been delayed-release. Everything that can be seen on the Consortium repo is also Apache 2.0/BDS FOSS.