Listen to this article
Intrinsic, a software company that launched out of the X moonshot division of Alphabet in mid-2021 to simplify the use of industrial robots, has acquired the Open Source Robotics Corporation (OSRC), the for-profit arm of Open Source Robotics Foundation, which is the developer of the Robot Operating System (ROS).
Intrinsic is also acquiring Open Source Robotics Corporation Singapore (OSRC-SG), the division of the company that led directly to the release of Open-RMF for interoperability.
Intrinsic is acquiring assets from OSRC and OSRC-SG, which are for-profit businesses. The Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF) will continue as the independent nonprofit it’s always been, with the same mission, now with some new faces and a clearer focus on governance, community engagement, and other stewardship activities. OSRC said this means there is no disruption in the day-to-day activities with respect to OSRF’s core commitment to ROS, Gazebo, Open-RMF, and the entire community.
Brian Gerkey, co-founder and now-former CEO of Open Robotics, will be joining Intrinsic as part of the OSRC team and will continue to serve on the board of OSRF. OSRC engineers will be joining Intrinsic as well.
In a blog announcing the deal, Gerkey said “as a small independent company at OSRC, it’s become increasingly challenging for us to meet the diverse needs of our large and growing user community and continue the commercial business of OSRC. Greater institutional support from Intrinsic and the resources from this transaction allow our team to focus on what we do best and accelerate the development of ROS, Gazebo, and Open-RMF in a sustainable way.
“Together we will give the robotics community great new features in ROS, Gazebo, and Open-RMF, while also building new products and services on top. We will continue to improve ROS, Gazebo, and Open-RMF so that they can be used in even more domains, with ever-higher demands for software quality, testing, and platform support.”
He continued, “ROS, Gazebo, and Open-RMF will be nurtured and advanced by OSRF. You can expect ROS 2 Iron Irwini to be available in May 2023 on schedule. Similarly, the continued operation and advancement of TurtleBot will be the responsibility of OSRF, in partnership with Clearpath Robotics and ROBOTIS.”
“Our mission is to democratize access to robotics. We believe that the long-term support for developers of the global ROS community is key to this mission,” Intrinsic said in a statement. “Our team is eager to welcome and work with our new colleagues, expand our use and integration of ROS tools, and build the Intrinsic platform. As we work together to support and serve developers, we see immense value in creating a software platform that expands access to intelligent robotics in a way that’s compatible, useful, and open, while creating countless opportunities where they didn’t exist before.”
Tully Foote, director of community and business development at Open Robotics, described on ROS Discourse what this acquisition means for the ROS community.
“For starters, this new arrangement isn’t particularly new. OSRF, the Foundation, will still be in charge of the open-source intellectual property, project governance, growing the ROS, Gazebo and Open-RMF communities, and continuing with its mission, just like before. OSRF will be the administrator of the Github organizations, continue running the project websites (ros.org, gazebosim.org 1, Discourse, Answers, etc), putting together ROSCon, and developing the TurtleBot. Basically, if it is an open-source tool or project it will stay with the Foundation.
“Vanessa Yamzon Orsi, the current Open Robotics CFO will serve as the OSRF CEO, with Geoffrey Biggs as CTO. The name ‘Open Robotics’ will also live on as a brand under the direction of the Foundation. The OSRF team will lead the transition to a more participatory and durable governance structure for the projects, similar to that found in The Cloud Native Computing Foundation and other projects under The Linux Foundation. OSRF will be working closely with the membership of the ROS 2 Technical Steering Committee to create this new structure.”
Foote continued, “The OSRC team, as Intrinsic employees, will continue to be involved in the development of ROS, Gazebo and Open-RMF as contributors alongside the many developers worldwide who work to improve the projects. From the community’s perspective, the team will continue writing features, fixing issues, merging pull requests, making releases, and generally contributing to the projects day to day. We will have dedicated bandwidth to work on core ROS packages, Gazebo, and Open-RMF.”
Editor’s Note: This story is developing. We will update this article if new information becomes available.