Building robots from scratch is a pain in the ass, a standardized OS is needed

Robots can play soccer, robots can fight fires, robots can even show emotions. The problem is, those are all different robots designed, built and programmed by different roboticists, and whatever they may have in common, their makers had to build from scratch. But this is about to change, the New Scientist writes:

Roboticists have begun to think about what robots have in common and what aspects of their construction can be standardised, hopefully resulting in a basic operating system everyone can use. This would let roboticists focus their attention on taking the technology forward.

One of the main sticking points is that robots are typically quite unlike one another. “It’s easier to build everything from the ground up right now because each team’s requirements are so different,” says Anne-Marie Bourcier of Aldebaran Robotics in Paris, France, which makes a half-metre-tall humanoid called Nao.

What’s needed is a standardized operating system that everyone can use. That would make collaboration between robot-makers easier and they wouldn’t always have to reinvent [the program that controls] the wheel.

The open-source Robot Operating System is an example of what such an OS could be. ROS has software commands for navigation, image recognition, object manipulation and so on, and all you have to is provide a description of your robot, when ROS boots on the computer.


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