Want To Build An Open Source Hardware And Software Robot? : Page 3 of 4

CES 2020 boasts of at least one open source robot, but what does that really mean?

Software Projects

Robots, like any electronic, microprocessor-based system, need software to perform all their primary functions. But programming a microprocessor typically requires understanding of assembler, C/C++, or Java programing languages.

To reach a larger audience, open-source robotic projects often use more visual and user friendly languages to program their robots. Here are a few examples:

Image source: Lego / LeJOS
  • LeJOS -  Have you ever attended a First League competition where elementary, middle- and high-school students engage in hands-on STEM experiences? LeJOS is a drop-in firmware replacement for Lego Mindstorms programmable bricks used in First League competitions. LeJOS is a tiny Java Virtual Machine (JVM) that allows users to program their Mindstorms robots easily using the Java programming language.
  • Rock – This is a software framework for the development of robotic systems. It is modeled after the Orocos RTT (Real Time Toolkit). Rock provides all the tools required to set up and run high-performance and reliable robotic systems for wide variety of applications.
  • ROS - The Robot Operating System is a framework for writing software for robots, that includes various tools and libraries to simplify the process. It is designed for collaborative development, with modular components. It is sponsored by the Open Source Robotics Foundation.

The advent of AI and machine language programs have not been lost on the open source community. But how might AI work in an open source robot like “Reachy?”

Leading software companies such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Amazon have been making considerable progress developing AI systems. Lately, they have released much of their work to the public for free use, exploration, adaptation and perhaps improvement.

The business advantage to this openly collaborative approach is that it allows the best minds at various companies to work together and contribute to the whole – including the leading AI companies. Also, the resulting technology is often cheaper and more widely available for developers.

Here a short-list of AI-related technologies that have been openly released to the public in the last 5 years:

  • Amazon’s Alexa, the voice-command system in the company’s Echo device
  • Google’s TensorFlow, its image search technology
  • Facebook’s M personal assistant
  • Microsoft’s Computation Network Tool Kit

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