Willow Garage’s Robot Operating System (ROS) is designed to reduce redundant developer work on newly built robot platforms, and as a software framework, is loosely compared to Microsoft Windows.
The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company provides the software under a free, open-source BSD license, and has focused on building a strong developer community to enhance its product offering and increase adoption throughout the robotics industry. After rapidly achieving popularity in the academic research community, ROS is now positioned to become a de facto standard in robotics research and development.
ROS, in essence, is the software that runs on the powerful main processor on a robot—the “brain”—to handle the high-level control of a robot. While individual microprocessors or microcontrollers may control motors on an arm joint using very low-level software, for example, the main computer handles input from navigation sensors, vision systems, and high-level mobility behavior commands. The utility of ROS is in creating some commonality across robot platforms in how these inputs are handled and how behavioral commands are issued.
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