May 06, 2005

Open Source Robotics

ORPP - The Open Robotics Peripheral Platform via Slashdot

Open Source robotics, anyone? When you put together robotics, the hardware and software usually are pretty tightly integrated, often having to be built for the specific project. Naturally, this grates on a hacker's soul: why do the same thing twice? Hence, ORPP, an open source robotics peripheral standards project. This project "is to provide modular components that are easily outfitted with various hardware and software features in the same manner as the modern-day personal computer."

The guys behind ORPP did a presentation at Penguincon '05, from which a couple of images and two movies were posted of this to Slashdot, for your viewing pleasure.

My best understanding is that it's an attempt to build a set of standards for components for robotics. So, say a robot needs to use a camera; if the camera follows those standards, any computer platform supporting those standards can use that camera. Which leads to some interesting what-ifs: what if I need a robot that can cut my grass? I get the Grass Cutter peripheral to my standard robot, which uses Robotics OS. The Grass Cutter comes with a Robotics OS extension, which then allows me to issue a set of commands to the robot through the Robotics OS. Definitely doable, and not unworthy.

Of course, since it's on Slashdot, every other project doing the same thing was mentioned, so try looking at Open Automation Project, Player/Stage, and Robobricks (which wasn't working at the time I tried it, YMMV). And naturally, the government's doing it already: one post pointed out that NASA has built tons robotics software -- on multiple platforms and with multiple languages as well -- but can't open source it due to company/government reticence.

Posted by Ted Stevko at May 6, 2005 03:52 AM | TrackBack