The ROS-Industrial ecosystem aims to help develop more specialized industrial robot application software. Gerkey said:
There's only so much you can do with the existing embedded industrial controllers that these companies have spent years developing. Now you can keep that controller box, but add a connection to a PC, for example, with algorithms developed in a research lab.
One big area that could benefit is motion-planning software. When industrial robots are programmed, they must be moved with a joystick from one configuration to the next and programmed to remember each configuration, in a highly tedious and inflexible process. Since the robot doesn't sense where an object is, like the bin it's tossing other objects into, it does all this movement blindly.
In ROS-Industrial, we can add perception and motion-perception software for environments where there's variability in what robots need to do. This can be developed in a university lab, so ROS becomes the pipeline from the lab to the factory. Even if the factory needs to rewrite that software, now they have a new and different capability to use in an industrial environment.
To some industrial robot makers, ROS-Industrial gives the ability to patch in technologies that would otherwise be foreign to them. They can use another software suite that will solve the ability to create increasingly diverse applications, said Erik Nieves, technology director of Yaskawa Motoman Robotics, in an interview. "Where ROS shines is working in unstructured or semi-structured environments where you need more perception, where vision plays a much bigger role, and where that vision requires a more sophisticated response from the robot."
One example of developing for unstructured environments is the 3D mapping software created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory to help robots autonomously navigate a constantly changing environment.
Watch videos of robot arms using ROS-Industrial here and here.
I watched the video and was a little surprised at the crudeness of the operation, and also with the large time gaps. I was wondering if this is typical or if it was just a crude demo meant to only show that it could be done. I am a hardware guy and certainly don't appreciate the complexities of the software art included in this demo, but can this be further improved by selecting a different level of accuracy and speed, or is this the state of the software now?
Chuck, so far it sounds like "commercial" software is likely to be on the order of drivers/interfaces for a specific company's own robots, such as those Motoman is currently developing. Or did you mean commercial versions of ROS itself?
Warren, the video is of a very simple demo. From my discussions with sources, I understand that what it shows is pretty darn complex on the software end. ROS is currently being used in surgical robot development. There are several other complex robots using ROS, shown here in a rotating gallery: http://www.willowgarage.com/pages/software You also might want to check out the SWRI site on ROS-Industrial for more details http://www.swri.org/4org/d10/msd/automation/ros-industrial.htm
Thanks for this info, Mrdon. I would imagine this would be great fun for some of our younger Gadget Freaks. We're beginning to attract more and more young inventors. the gadget currently up (#216) was put together by a 15 year old.
Yes, prototyping platforms like I mentioned (LEGO Mindstorms and Arduino) make it very easy for young Makers/Inventors to create really cool projects. I was quite impress with the LED project created by the 15year Maker and the method he used to develop his product. Very innovated young person.
Hi Rob, that's awesome about the upcoming Gadget Freak articles. I have a LEGO Mindstorms -Arduino project that allows an Android phone to communicate with the prototyping devices using Bluetooth. I have a few more tests to conduct and then I'll be able to do a writeup for submission.
Hi Rob, Its' amazing how creativity can emerge with the use of these electronic prototyping platforms. I like sharing these Gadget Freak projects with the Capstone Students at the School of Electronics Technology of ITT Tech to help stimulate design product ideas. BTW, I'm the Department Chair!
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