ROS-Industrial Consortium Americas Kickoff Meeting Review

The ROS-Industrial Consortium launched with a kickoff meeting on March 6 and 7 at Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) in San Antonio, TX. The meeting began the afternoon of the 6th with an open house that covered introductions to SwRI, ROS, MoveIt!, ROS-Industrial, and the Consortium. Participants, who were mostly from industry, were enthusiastic about the potential for ROS-I and for one of its upcoming motion planning applications called MoveIt!, which was presented by Dr. Sachin Chitta from Willow Garage.

A highlight of the open house meeting was a virtual appearance by Erik Nieves, Technology Director for Motoman Robotics America, who used his VGo telepresence robot to deliver a compelling presentation about the value of ROS-Industrial to robot Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Concluding his remarks he summarized, ". . . ROS-Industrial is an important work. It is true: we do need to have a hard and stable version of ROS from which we can proceed. So Yaskawa has thrown our hat in with the ROS-Industrial Consortium, and we’re glad that you have too!"

After the open house presentations, the group toured various SwRI robotics facilities ending with a set of five ROS-I-enabled robot demonstrations at SwRI’s Manufacturing Systems facility. HDT Robotics also exhibited its teleoperated portable robotic arm during the demonstration time.

The member's meeting occurred on March 7. During the morning session, attendees presented perspectives about their experience using ROS/ROS-I for industrial robotics R&D. Shaun Edwards, the founder of ROS-Industrial, then presented a proposed roadmap for ROS-Industrial development. The group broke out into work groups to provide their feedback about the technical and programmatic trajectory of ROS-Industrial. Mr. Ulrich Rieser, Group Manager, Software Engineering and System Integration, Robot and Assistive Systems Department at Fraunhofer IPA, gave the keynote presentation at lunch, entitled ROS-I European Perspective, which outlined a roadmap for ROS-I adoption in Europe. During the afternoon session Paul Hvass, the Consortium Program Manager, presented an overview explaining how Consortium Focused Technical Projects (FTPs) work, and how they enable members to share the cost of developing specific new ROS-Industrial capabilities. Consortium member "FTP champions" then presented five proposed FTP topics which included a graphical programming user interface for ROS, a MoveIt!-based mobile manipulation demonstrator, a MoveIt!-based deburring demonstrator, a force- controlled teleoperated system for deburring/grinding, and improvements to a human tracker system for forklift/AGV safety. During the networking time that followed, members engaged with the champions to understand the details of their high-interest FTPs leading to three which had the interest of multiple members.

Upcoming consortium activities include participation in ROSCon in May, a ROS-Industrial training class, which will be held in San Antonio, TX in June, and the next member's meeting in September. FTPs start when a critical mass of members agrees to fund a given topic. Here is a link for more information about FTPs.