The Robot Operating System gets ready for prime time
Not only is the Robot Operating System, or ROS, important for training developers, but it is also increasingly relevant to commercial robotics.
Since 2007, the open-source platform has been part of academic programs and the basis for numerous autonomous mobile robots coming out of Willow Garage. Last year, Microsoft Corp. announced support for ROS in Windows 10, marking increasing industrial interest. In fact, more than half of commercial robots shipped in 2024, or over 915,000 units, will have at least one ROS package installed, according to ABI Research.
The global market for ROS applications could expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.2% from 2019 to 2027, reaching $438 million in 2027, predicts Transparency Market Research.
Absolute Market Insights is similarly bullish, forecasting a CAGR of 8.7% from $203.99 million in 2018 to $430.92 million by 2027. More than 50 mobile and service robots now use ROS, noted Absolute Market Insights. It cited providers including ABB, FANUC, KUKA, iRobot, Omron Adept, and Yaskawa Motoman.
ROS offerings to engineers are also growing. PickNik Inc. said earlier this year that the MoveIt 2 Beta of its open-source software works with ROS 2 for faster, more reactive planning through real-time control.
This summer, ADLINK Technology Inc. announced partnerships with chipmakers Intel Corp. and NVIDIA Corp. for its ROScube controller for applications involving sensors, actuators, and artificial intelligence.
Earlier this month, Clearpath Robotics Inc. extended ROS support to Boston Dynamics Inc.’s Spot quadruped robot, which is now commercially available. The companies said this will help developers take advantage of the robot’s capabilities and create innovative applications.
In this month’s issue of The Robot Report, a supplement to Design World, we focus on how ROS is evolving. Ricardo Tellez, co-founder and CEO of The Construct, describes the history of ROS since two researchers at Stanford University got tired of “reinventing the wheel.”
If you are planning to move from ROS 1 to ROS 2, be prepared, notes Lukasz Mitka. He explains the steps his team took at Husarion, which makes the ROSbot development platform. Also, see my conversation with Joe Speed, field chief technology officer at ADLINK, about how ROS 2 and AI could accelerate commercial robotics development.
One of the benefits of community support is that there are always opportunities to improve ROS. Michael Ferguson, director of research and development at Cobalt Robotics, as well as an alumnus of Willow Garage and Fetch Robotics, discusses five things he would like to see added to ROS 2.
Whether you are a student, a developer, or a robotics vendor, learn how ROS 2 can advance the state of robotics.