This week, we’re joining the global community of developers who converge on New Orleans for ROSCon 2023, the 12th annual gathering of ROS (Robot Operating System) developers. Ten months after we welcomed team members of OSRC — the commercial subsidiary of Open Robotics — to Intrinsic, we’re seeing great momentum both internally and externally in our efforts to build opportunities for the world’s robotics developers.

Since we began working together, the Open Robotics team at Intrinsic has first and foremost been continuing its efforts as core contributors to improve ROS, Gazebo, and Open-RMF as tools and resources that serve as backbones for robotics projects the world over. In the past months, we’ve celebrated Iron Irwini, the latest ROS release, and Harmonic, the latest Gazebo release. Today at ROSCon, the Open Robotics team at Intrinsic introduced the progress we’re making on the development of alternative middleware protocols as well as our first integrations between ROS and the Intrinsic platform.

For the last few years, the ROS community has been eager to explore support for alternative middleware systems — which work like a kind of “glue” that sits between robotic operating systems and applications. To pursue these enhancements requires long-term investment and significant and sustained resources, specifically in the form of time and focus, and Intrinsic is dedicating the support that wasn’t possible before. The ROS middleware interface (RMW) is meant to be generic and broadly compatible – however, in its current state, only DDS implementations are supported.

So, over the past few months, our team has prepared a comprehensive report evaluating alternative middleware options — and they’ve now turned their attention to make the Zenoh protocol a Tier-3 middleware implementation to benefit the open source community by creating more choice. The main goal is to create an alternative RMW implementation that has a great “out of the box” experience for users, while still retaining the DDS middleware for those with specific needs in demanding applications.

In addition to core contributions to ROS, the Open Robotics team at Intrinsic is also working on building the first integrations between ROS and the Intrinsic platform. When we announced Intrinsic Flowstate earlier this year as our first web-based developer tool to make building robotic solutions easier and more accessible, we indicated our intention to build strong bridges between ROS and our Intrinsic platforms. With Flowstate currently in private beta, we’re gradually increasing the number of testers and exploring prototypes of potential integrations between our platforms.

For instance, in the prototype demonstrated at ROSCon, we’re able to use ROS data visualization tools to introspect — or examine or visualize — live data from a solution running in Flowstate. In the demo video below, we run a solution in Flowstate in simulation – and are able to visualize the motions, joint configurations, and other relevant data points in RViz, PlotJuggler and other popular ROS visualization tools. We were able to build this introspection bridge by routing Zenoh to our developers’ local ROS environments. While this is only a first step and early exploration of integrations together, we’re excited by the start of our journey to make it more seamless to move between ROS and Intrinsic developer environments.

With applications open for future early beta testers of Flowstate and the release of Jazzy Jalisco, the next ROS release, and Ionic, the next Gazebo release, on the horizon in 2024, we can’t wait to see the investments and contributions from individual developers, solution builders, and organizations both large and small, in making robotics even more open and accessible.

Mission momentum: welcoming Vicarious

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Mission momentum: welcoming Vicarious

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