Over the next 10 years, personal robots (as opposed to industrial robots) have the potential to improve people's lives by taking automation to a new level. Like personal computers of 30 years ago, the personal robotics industry will take off and become an economic engine. But robotics is a complex, multidisciplinary field, and fielding successful applications requires expertise ranging from hardware (mechanical and electrical) to social science. By working together on an open source software platform, we can accelerate progress in the field and more quickly field successful applications. Willow Garage has partnered with Stanford University and many other top robotics laboratories around the world to create such an open source code base. The robot operating system, ROS, is quickly becoming the de facto platform for robotics research. I will argue that most if not all robotics companies should join the ROS bandwagon, as a way to move the entire industry forward quickly.
Open Source Robotics