Recently here in the ROS-I Americas backyard we have begun organizing an open robotics meetup called SATX Robotix. The intent is to drive more face-to-face interaction around open-source software and/or robotics and broaden the types of people who may engage in supporting open-source development.
As open-source has gained momentum, particularly in industrial circles, there is the opportunity to deploy lessons learned more broadly to further accelerate the means for how we effectively communicate and incentivize participation in an open-source community. This can help enhance the skills needed to build technical capability and effectively disseminate information, gather feedback and grow a diverse community that moves the needle of democratizing capability and enabling participation that enriches not just the target open-source projects but the communities that are involved.
The SATX Robotix initiative is still in its early phases, but it has shown the promise of bringing developers, end-users, students, interested hobbyists, and other elements of the business and marketing community to both drive idea sharing and enable richer collaboration and skill sharing than we would get just working on an issue board on GitHub.
If you are considering levering open-source tools in your advanced robotics or manufacturing/industrial application, I would encourage you to see what is going on in your local tech community. If possible, see where you can engage in a meetup. If nothing else, you may find others who have dealt with similar challenges or find those who can help you formulate your “so what” as to why you would seek to leverage open-source software to solve your problem within your group/company.
Don’t overlook opportunities to work face-to-face with a broader set of individuals. The engagement and benefit of community is what sets the open-source development model apart from, particularly, industrial/proprietary solution development approaches.