Open Robotics
Powering the world's robots



For blog posts prior to April 2018, visit our old site. You might also enjoy the ROS blog and the Gazebo blog.


Our summer interns landed in California and Singapore

There are still a couple of weeks before the official start of summer but our offices in California and Singapore have already welcomed our next round of summer interns: Malintha Fernando, Katherine Kee, Siddharth Kucheria, Jay Li, Brandon Ong and Marshall Rawson.


Malintha is a 2nd year PhD student from Indiana University, Bloomington. He is studying robot swarm control and coordination, especially with aerial robots. At Open Robotics (US), Malintha is working on developing a framework for formation control and navigation of a quadcopter team in Gazebo simulation environments.

Katherine is a Computer Engineering Undergrad from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Being exposed to Robotics since she was 8, she has since attained a Dip. in Automation & Mechatronic Systems, during which she taught robotics to schools. She has previously helped to create an AGV for warehouse automation and currently hosts tech workshops at clubs. In her free time, she loves reading, nature and animals! She is eager to play a larger role in the Open Source Community and work on the projects in the Singapore office at Open Robotics.

Siddharth is a fourth-year student completing his undergraduate degree in computer science and business administration at the University of Southern California. He will begin his master’s degree in applied data science this fall. Ever since Siddharth was introduced to robotics and ROS five years ago, his passion for the field, particularly aerial robotics, has grown tremendously. At Open Robotics (US), he is working on new features and improvements related to the core or ROS 2.

Jay is pursuing his master’s degree in Engineering Sciences at Harvard University. He is endeavoring to create robots that are actually good for us. Previously, he finished an undergraduate degree at UCLA in Electrical Engineering and Anthropology. Outside work, he enjoys playing badminton. Jay is really excited to join in for the summer, and is working on Ignition Gazebo and the SubT project at the US office.

Brandon is a third-year Engineering Product Development student at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). He has been teaching and using ROS in his capacity as a president of the SUTD Organisation of Autonomous Robotics, building autonomous ground vehicles and contributing to the open source community. He is eager to explore other robotics domains beyond AGVs, particularly in novel control interfaces. In his free time, Brandon likes to compose orchestral soundtracks, perform in band concerts, and make board games. He is currently integrating MoveIt with the Berkeley Blue arm in the Singapore office, but will join other projects once that project wraps up.

Marshall Rawson is a second year student at University of Florida studying Computer Engineering, working in the Machine Intelligence Lab at Florida, where he writes software using ROS and Gazebo for UF's NaviGator and SubjuGator to compete in RobotX Maritime Challenge and RoboSub Competitions respectively. While working at Open Robotics (US), he is helping to develop the Virtual RobotX Maritime Challenge to be hosted in the off years of the Physical RobotX Challenge.

Open Robotics welcomes our GSoC students

We're pleased to welcome Shivesh Khaitan, Mukul Khanna, Tyler Lum, Jens Petit, Mingfei Sun, Rumman Waqar and Zhenye Wu, our 2019 students participating in the Google Summer of Code!

Open Robotics/GSoC’19 students

Open Robotics/GSoC’19 students

Shivesh is a second year student pursuing a degree in Bachelors of Technology (B.Tech) in Computer Science Engineering from Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal, India. He is a member of Project MANAS, a student team working on AI Robotics. The team is currently working on making a self driving car and several other cutting edge autonomous robotics projects. At Open Robotics, he will be working on migrating existing ROS Gazebo plugins to ROS2. He would also like to include some new plugins which would be helpful for the community.

Mukul is a research intern at IIT Gandhinagar (India). He is part of the SRM autonomous underwater vehicle team, and has experience as a web developer at Skylim Infotech and as a software intern at Tata Consultancy Services. The Gazebo project has a vast set of learning resources in the form of a documentation section, Gazebo tutorials, the QA website, ROS answers and other blogs that developers can refer to for any assistance. All of this information is distributed across the internet with some links joining each other. The aim of his project is to bring all the Gazebo learning material under one web page in the form of a documentation index that contains links to the content where the respective information is hosted.

Tyler Lum is a fourth-year UBC Engineering Physics student, who is passionate about robotics and AI. He is a lifelong learner that strives for personal growth and aims to create a happier world through intelligent use of automation. Outside of robotics, Tyler enjoys playing volleyball, playing ultimate frisbee, and kickboxing. Tyler will be working on the VRX and SubT projects.

Since Jens got introduced to ROS through a lab course of his robotics master degree at TU Munich in Germany, he has been hooked. Building robots with ROS is at the same time powerful and fun. Jens is excited to contribute to such a popular package as MoveIt and happy to be part of a vibrant community of robotics experts. Besides coding this summer, he can be found practicing Aikido or hiking in the beautiful Alps. He will be working integrating Bullet as a collision checker to MoveIt this summer.

Mingfei Sun is a PhD student from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). He is doing research on Robot Learning from Demonstration, Imitation Learning and Human-Robot Interaction. He is eager to design fundamental algorithms and systems that enable robots to autonomously learn skills from desired demonstrations. Mingfei will be working on the project Actor support on Ignition, contributing codes to Actor simulation and animation.

Rumman is passionate about robotics. He has over five years of experience in robotics and nine years of programming experience in C++ and Python. He just finished an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering. Rumman wanted to get a more formal education in computer science so he joined the University of London for computer science. Rumman will be working with NPS and Open Robotics in the VRX project.

Zhenye Wu is a Control Engineering student from the Zhejiang University of Technology of China, he participant in the China Robot Competition during 2018 's summer. He learned to use ROS to build robot at that time, with this experience, he was familiar with ROS and other common Python libraries. In the meantime, he found that it is sad to realize that ROS1 only distributes its binary package in Debian system, Arch Linux user need so much time to compile ROS1, Windows user even can’t use ROS1. So he hoped to improve the Bloom project for supporting creating Windows packages in GSoC2019.

Carlos AgueroGSoC
Farewell Indigo Igloo

We've reached a major milestone. ROS Indigo Igloo, our first LTS ROS Distribution has reached it's official end of life. This release had a lifespan of 5 years which is almost half of the life of the entire ROS project.

Indigo Igloo was first released in July of 2014. I has grown to be the largest ROS distribution ever with 2780 packages released as binaries. Indigo also was the first time that we targeted the ARM architecture by default and over 87% of the packages released successfully built on ARM.

The collective output of the community contributing to Indigo Igloo has been amazing. Just looking at the activity in the rosdistro index for indigo. There were 7581 commits over 1925 days. That's an average of 3.9 commits per day. The majority of these changes are releases of packages. There were 475 people who contributed to the indigo rosdistro which is an average of 16.0 commits per author.

These commits came from our world wide community. There were commits coming in at all hours of every day of the week across 1478 different days:


Here's a visualization of all the releases in the indigo subdirectory of the rosdistro.


Here is a list of all the maintainers who contributed directly to the indigo rosdistro index over the last 5 years. We want to express a big thanks to everyone who contributed to these thousands of releases that made Indigo Igloo available to the community!

Dirk Thomas, Vincent Rabaud, Kei Okada, Tully Foote, Russell Toris, Michael Ferguson, William Woodall, Jihoon Lee, Daniel Stonier, Isaac I.Y. Saito, Mikael Arguedas, Florian Weisshardt, Paul Bovbel, Mike Purvis, Dave Coleman, Vladimir Ermakov, Davide Faconti, Ioan Sucan, AlexV, Johannes Meyer, ipa-fxm, TheDash, Isaac IY Saito, Jack O'Quin, alexv, P. J. Reed, Martin Günther, Tony Baltovski, Kevin Hallenbeck, Joshua Whitley, Niklas Yann Wettengel, Alexander Tiderko, Mickael Gaillard, Justin Huang, SawYer-Robotics, Bence Magyar, Andy Zelenak, Kentaro Wada, Jennifer Buehler, Fabien Spindler, Esteve Fernandez, Chad Rockey, carlos3dx, Adolfo Rodriguez Tsouroukdissian, Natalia Lyubova, Felix Ruess, Armin Hornung, gavanderhoorn, trainman419, Miquel Massot, Ian McMahon, Daiki Maekawa, Christopher Berner, Karsten Knese, Dan Lazewatsky, Atsushi Watanabe, Gayane Kazhoyan, Felix Mauch, Christoph Rösmann, matlabbe, Jose Luis Rivero, Jose Luis Blanco, shadowmanos, Rohan Agrawal, Peter Weissig, Matt Alvarado, Ed Venator, David Kent, nlyubova, dash, Mani Monajjemi, Edward Venator, Carlos Villar, Tom Moore, Sabrina Heerklotz, Nick Hawes, Mark D Horn, Konstantin Schauwecker, Gaël Ecorchard, Anqi Xu, perezsolerj, Shengye Wang, Piyush Khandelwal, Ioan A Sucan, Shaun Edwards, Ryosuke Tajima, Peter Fankhauser, Fadri Furrer, Akif, Sachin Chitta, Richard Bormann, Philipp Schillinger, David V. Lu!!, DaikiMaekawa, AliquesTomas, Alexander Winkler, xuefengchang, Ruben Smits, Martin Pecka, Martin Guenther, Georg Bartels, AndyZe, Adam Leeper, Aaron Blasdel, fmessmer, Takashi Ogura, Raphael Memmesheimer, Mehmet Akcakoca, Jose-Luis Blanco-Claraco, robot, Toni Oliver, RomanRobotnik, Mark Horn, Jan Winkler, Jackie Kay, wnowak, flg-pb, davide, dan brooks, croesmann, corot, atp, Shane Loretz, Samuel Bachmann, Ronald Ensing, Patrick Beeson, Mitchell Wills, Mathias Lüdtke, Ken Tossell, Jon Binney, Andreas Hermann, margueda, fsuarez6, Takeshi Chiku, Takamasa Sasagawa, Phoenix, Mikael ARGUEDAS, Matei Ciocarlie, Jim Rothrock, Hamdi Sahloul, Ha Dang, kintzhao, fmina, dwlee, durovsky,, Shokoofeh Pourmehr, Sebastian Kasperski, Sarah Elliott, MoriKen254, Matthias Hadlich, Mathieu Labbe, JerryLiu, Hunter Allen, Francis Colas, Eric Perko, David Lu, Chris Lalancette, Carlos Aguero, Andy Wilson, Alexander, zmk5, uavc, procopiostein, ipa-nhg, christoph, Wolfgang Merkt, Todor Stoyanov, Sam Pfeiffer, Reed Hedges, Pramuditha Aravinda, Pep Lluís Negre, Murilo FM, Morgan Quigley, Marc Hanheide, Levi Armstrong, Jordi Pages, Jeremie Deray, Felix Marek, Dave Feil-Seifer, Austin, Alexander Bubeck, silviomaeta, lukscasanova, enriquefernandez, banerjs, babaksit, Wouter Caarls, Vincent Rousseau, Tobias, Timo Röhling, Tim Niemueller, Siddhartha Banerjee, Scott K Logan, Sammy Pfeiffer, Roman Fedorenko, Kristof Robot, Jorge Santos Simón, Jacob Perron, George Stavrinos, Felix Duvallet, Federico Spinelli, Dr. Konstantin Schauwecker, Christian Holl, Carlos Agüero, Austin Hendrix, Alex Moriarty, Alberto Invernizzi, xaxxontech, user, turtlebot, sukha-cn, plnegre, michaelpantic, michael1309, liminglong, jgmonroy, felramfab, chapulina, ayrton04, atenpas, archielee, andre-dietrich, albertoinvernizzi, ahb, Tim, Steven Peters, Sebastian Pütz, Samuel Charreyron, Sam, Rik, Péter Fankhauser, Pyo, Procópio Stein, Praveen Palanisamy, Micho Radovnikovich, Michael Lehning, Matej Sladek, Maciej Żurad, KristofRobot, Komei Sugiura, Kenneth Bogert, Joseph Duchesne, Jose Luis Blanco-Claraco, Jonathan Bohren, Ji Zhang, Hendrik Meijdam, Felix Messmer, Felix Endres, Enrique Fernandez, DevonAsh, David V. Lu, David Fischinger, Christos Zalidis, Chittaranjan Swaminathan Srinivas, Brian Bingham, Aqua, Angel Merino, AndyZelenak, Alexander Stumpf, zhukovv, thachdd88, simonpierredeschenes, rdelgadov, procopio, ob-tim-liu, nrgadmin, lth, kmhallen, kint.zhao, kazuyamashi, icarpis, iav-student, gus484, gregvi, fspindle, brice rebsamen, auboliuxin, amineHorseman, agentx3r, ZhuangYanDLUT, Zahi Kakish, Yu-Tang Peng, Yoshihiro Miyakoshi, Thomas Bamford, Thiago de Freitas Oliveira Araujo, Surya Ambrose, Silvio Maeta, Rodrigo Alexis Delgado Vega, RoboHacker, Robert Haschke, Reagan Lopez, Philippe Capdepuy, Paul Szenher, Patrick Wiesen, Patrick Goebel, Osiron007, Nishant Kejriwal, Nelapsi, Nadia Hammoudeh García, Mustafa Safri, Michele Colledanchise, Matt Curfman, Markus Bader, Markus Achtelik, Luis Rodrigues, Julian Cerruti, Jonathan Jekir, Jochen Sprickerhof, Javier Perez, Jarvis Schultz, Hunter L. Allen, HannesSommer, Guilhem Saurel, G.A. vd. Hoorn, Furushchev, Eurecat Robotic Lab, Erwan Le Huitouze, Eric Wieser, Dustin Gooding, Denis Štogl, Damon Kohler, Christoph Sprunk, Christian Dornhege, Chris Zalidis, Arun Das, André Araújo, Andriy Petlovanyy, Alexander W Winkler, Alex Brown, Alex Bencz, Alan Meekins, Akif Hacinecipoglu, Adriano Henrique Rossette Leite, AIDS, μRoboptics, zlt1991, yotabits, yincanben, wlfws, v01d, toliver, tn0432, smoker771, smoker77, sm, sabrina-heerklotz, ruipimentelfigueiredo, rgariepy, pirobot, pietrocolombo, mmurooka, mike, micros-uav, mcantero,, liux44, lentin, jrgnicho, joselusl, ipa-mig, ipa-jcl, genexusdev, gaspereira, ferherranz, dronesinma, dhood, csherstan, corb555, codebot9000, chikuta, bona, angel, andrewsilva9, airglow, Yug Ajmera, YoshihiroMIYAKOSHI, YoonseokPyo, Yam Geva, Xi (Matthew) Liu, Wolfang Hoenig, Walter Nowak, Wagdi Ben yaala, Victor Lopez, Veronica Lane, Velin Dimitrov, Trung Nguyen, Tom Panzarella, Tokyo Opensource Robotics Developer 534, Todd Hester, Tobias Allgeyer, Thomas, ThachDoNRMK, Soy Robotics, Simon Lynen, Ryan Keating, Ryan Gariepy, Ryan Borchert, Rousseau Vincent, Roman Navarro Garcia, Roman, RoboTiCan, Roberto Martín-Martín, Roberto Martin-Martin, Raffa87, Pulse Developer, Peter Mitrano, Perrine Aguiar, Paul Mathieu, Patrick F, Pascal Becker, NCS 3D Sensing Team, Mike Hosmar, Michal Drwiega, Micha Rappaport, Matouš Jezerský, Masaru Morita, Mario Prats, Maria, Maram-Alajlan, Manos Nikolaidis, Lukas Jelinek, Luetkebohle Ingo (CR/AEX3), Lucid One, Lennart Puck, Kirill Krinkin, Kacper, Jrdevil-Wang, Jose Luis Sanchez Lopez, Jorge Nicho, Jorge Arino, Jonathan Allen, Job van Dieten, Jeongsoo Lim, Itay Carpis, Itamar Eliakim, Isura Ranatunga, Ingo Lütkebohle, Ignacio Carlucho, IanTheEngineer, Hunter Laux, Hassan Umari, Gérald Lelong, Gert Kanter, Georg Heppner, Geoffrey Biggs, Francisco Vina, Francisco J Perez Grau, Felicien93, Federico, Enrique Fernández Perdomo, Dorian Scholz, Diogo Almeida, DinnerHowe, Denis Dillenberger, David Uhm, David Portugal, David Feil-Seifer, Daisuke Sato, Claudio Bandera, Christian Rauch, Christian Pfitzner, Chittaranjan Srinivas Swaminathan, Chambana, Chad Attermann, Carnegie Robotics LLC, Buildbot Squirrel, BryceVoort, Brandon Alexander, Bingham, Brian S, Antons Rebguns, Andre Araujo, Allison Thackston, Alexis Maldonado, 491734045

ROSNathan KoenigROS
Updated SubT Virtual Portal

The SubT Virtual Portal has a new home at Here you will find links to help you get started as a SubT Challenge competitor, access to simulation resources in the SubT Tech Repo, and a leaderboard ranking current competitors. This portal has been designed from the ground up by Open Robotics, based on years of experience as a collaborator in simulation-based competitions.


The SubT Challenge follows in a long line of DARPA challenges. Previous DARPA challenges have pushed the capabilities of autonomous systems in the vehicular, humanoid, and aerial vehicle domains. This time, DARPA is presenting a unique challenge that involves the exploration and mapping of diverse and complex subterranean environments using multiple heterogeneous autonomous robots. We encourage you to take a look at the available competition tracks, and register a team today!

Expect new features to roll out on the SubT Virtual Portal in the coming months. Foremost is the ability to run simulation in the cloud using the SubT Simulator. This feature will alleviate the burden of maintaining GPU-enable machines in your local development environment. You will also gain the ability to run multiple simulations in parallel, and we will handle all the dirty work. The time frame for this feature is May 2019.

New Virtual RobotX competition

RoboNation, in partnership with the Naval Postgraduate School and Open Robotics, announced today that applications are now being accepted for the Virtual RobotX Competition (VRX). Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the VRX competition is an international, university-level effort designed to broaden students’ exposure to autonomy and maritime robotic technologies.

In the VRX competition, student teams will operate their vehicle in a Gazebo-based simulation environment built by Open Robotics and the Naval Postgraduate School. Students will be tasked to develop innovative solutions to ensure their virtual Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) can perform prescribed tasks in this environment. Tasks for this competition have been derived from RoboNation’s Maritime RobotX Challenge.


Robotic teams from around the world are encouraged to apply for the VRX competition. As part of the application process, teams will provide information on their past history in robotic competitions and the impact they hope to achieve by competing in VRX.


Applications are being accepted here. Access all rules and supporting documents, simulation environment and forum on the VRX site.

“This is a very unique simulation environment and one that we are excited about creating”, according to Carlos Agüero, Research Engineer at Open Robotics. “We are very excited to see how the teams perform with their simulated USVs”.

“The Virtual RobotX competition, as part of the larger Maritime RobotX Program, is designed to give students the opportunity to improve their vehicles’ performance”, says RoboNation Executive Director Daryl Davidson. “The solutions the teams develop in the VRX competition will aid their performance when competing in a real-world environment at the biennial RobotX Challenge, to be held in Hawaii in 2020”.

Important Dates:

  • March: Preliminary Rules & Scoring Released

  • March: Software v1.0 Released

  • March 15: Application Opens

  • March 25-29: Student Feedback Call

  • April 7: Application Closes

  • April 15: Announce Accepted Teams

  • April 15: Open Registration

  • April 30: Close Registration

  • May: Student Feedback Call

  • June: Final Rules & Scoring Released

  • September: Qualifiers

  • November: Semi-Finals

  • December: Finals

Carlos Aguero
Open Robotics accepted for Google Summer of Code 2019

Do you want to spend the summer coding on Gazebo or ROS? Open Robotics has been accepted for GSoC and we are looking for talented students who want to participate as remote interns. 

Accepted students will participate in real-world software development, contributing to open source robotics projects and engaging with the global robotics community, all while getting paid.

Check out our GSoC site and don't forget to visit our ideas page, which lists projects that we're interested in. Feel free to ask questions and propose suggestions at The student application period opens on March 25th and closes April 9th

Get ready for a robotics coding summer!

Carlos Aguero
Happy Halloween from Open Robotics (2018 edition)!

Yesterday was Halloween, which means that it was once again time to get everyone (well, nearly everyone) into costume. This year featured a strong showing from around the world, starting with headquarters in California:


and nearby from our newest family member:


and also the team in Alabama:


and of course Singapore:


Happy Halloween, everybody!

From the Halloween archives:

Nathan Koenig
ROSCon 2018 Diversity Program

ROSCon 2018 marked the third year of the conference’s diversity program, which is designed to enable participation in ROSCon by those typically underrepresented in the tech community. Thanks to the support of the program’s sponsors Amazon,, Erle Robotics, Fetch Robotics, Google, Locus, Open Robotics, and SICK, we were joined at the conference by close to 30 roboticists from around the world who otherwise wouldn’t have made it to Madrid. Our hope is that, like all attendees of ROSCon, the scholarship recipients will return home after the event to share the knowledge and networks that they’ve acquired in order to strengthen their local ROS communities.

2018 ROSCon Diversity Committee and Scholarship Recipients.

2018 ROSCon Diversity Committee and Scholarship Recipients.

To get a sense of the impact that the ROSCon Diversity Scholarship Program had this year, we’re proud to share some comments from scholarship recipients about their experience about the conference and the ROS community as a whole:

ROSCon has been an incredible experience. It is really encouraging to see that everyone in the robotics community is really welcoming and willing to share their expertise. I learned a lot and I met incredible people. This experience inspired and motivated me to contribute more to the robotics community and make a positive impact. This would not be possible without the generous support from the scholarship sponsors. Your generosity truly makes a difference. Thank you!

My attendance at ROSCon 2018 has given me useful insight into the breath of the user base behind ROS, and close contact with the community that make ROS work. This access has deepened my interest in ROS and the world of robotics and I gained useful insight on how to progress my research into ROS and the application of robotics in my profession as an architect while talking with people I met at the conference who were all friendly and eager to offer information and tips. Along with all the great people from all over the world, I met 3 other Nigerians involved in robotics and of the four of us, I was the only one currently resident in Nigeria. With robotics being such a rare field in Nigeria, it revealed the potential for the diversity scholarship to draw out globally dispersed ROS users from the same region and connect them at an international platform. This creates more opportunities for future collaboration and knowledge transfer.

The scholarship program continues to grow each year, and so outside of the standard conference schedule we also host a reception for the diversity program prior to the event. This provides an opportunity for scholarship recipients to connect with the sponsors of the program that have helped fund their attendance.

2018 ROSCon Diversity Sponsors, Diversity Committee, Organizing Committee and Scholarship Recipients.

2018 ROSCon Diversity Sponsors, Diversity Committee, Organizing Committee and Scholarship Recipients.

A big thank you goes out to the scholarship recipients for helping us make ROSCon more representative of the global and diverse ROS community, and to the ROSCon Diversity Committee and the conference’s diversity program sponsors, without which this wouldn’t have been possible:

ROSConDeanna Hood
ROS (t-shirts) through the years

We began the tradition of making t-shirts to commemorate significant events in the development of ROS back in 2009 when we working through Milestones 1, 2, and 3 as part of getting the PR2s ready to ship. When we started releasing ROS distros, we also started working with artist Josh Ellingson. Josh has done the logos for all the ROS distros and conferences we’ve had since then.

With ROSCon 2018 just a few days away, we thought that it’d be fun to look back through the past decade of ROS development, in t-shirt form, so we asked everyone to go digging through their closets:


We hope to see you in Madrid this weekend!

Nathan Koenig
Taking ROS and Gazebo into healthcare

As we shared in March, Open Robotics is now operating a research and development office in Singapore. This week, at the 2018 National Health IT Summit, Minister of Health Gan Kim Yong announced our initial project for the Singapore office: the Robotics Middleware Framework (RMF). After Mr. Gan's announcement, our own Brian Gerkey introduced the audience to Open Robotics and explained what we'll be building and why.

As more robotics and automation technologies are introduced to healthcare, interoperability should be front and center for every manufacturer, systems integrator, and end user. No single vendor can supply the breadth of solutions that are required in a modern healthcare facility and no single facility can afford to operate a collection of siloed systems with vendor-specific interfaces.  We need food-delivery robots from one vendor to communicate with drug-delivery robots from another vendor. We need a unified approach to command and control for all the robots in a facility. We need a reliable way to develop and test multi-vendor systems in software simulation prior to deployment. And for it to succeed we need this critical interoperability infrastructure to be open source.

Under the leadership of the Centre for Healthcare Assistive and Robotics Technology (CHART), we are working over the next three years with government and industry partners to develop the Robotics Middleware Framework. In this program we will improve, extend, and scale up ROS and Gazebo to provide a common and open system with which we can interconnect, monitor, command, and simulate the thousands of robots and other devices that are already used in modern hospitals as well as create a scalable system which can support solutions that are not yet designed.

By applying the philosophical and technical approaches that have led to the widespread adoption of ROS and Gazebo in so many other robotics markets, we are excited to bring openness and interoperability to the advanced technology that is poised to change how healthcare is administered.

If you'd like to help us in this effort, remember that we're hiring here in Singapore!

Brian Gerkey
ARIAC 2018 Finals results announced

We are happy to announce the final results of the 2018 Agile Robotics for Industrial Automation Competition (ARIAC), hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Now in its second year, ARIAC is a simulation-based competition designed to address a critical limitation of robots used in industrial environments: that they are not as agile as they need to be. Many robots are not able to quickly detect failures, or recover from those failures. They aren’t able to sense changes in their environment and modify their actions accordingly. The goal of ARIAC is to enable industrial robots on workshop floors to be more productive, more autonomous, and more responsive to the needs of shop floor workers by utilizing the latest advances in artificial intelligence and robot planning.

While autonomously completing order fulfillment tasks, teams were presented with various agility challenges developed based on input from industry representatives. These challenges include:

  • Failing suction grippers, requiring teams to determine if products dropped from the gripper should be retrieved or re-positioned,

  • Reception of updated/high-priority orders, prompting teams to decide whether or not to reuse existing in-progress shipments being filled or to start new ones from scratch,

  • Notification of faulty products, requiring teams to replace inadequate products and plan ahead to ensure enough non-faulty products are available for the high priority orders,

  • Products requested flipped from their original positioning, requiring teams to complete a two-step process to place the product, and

  • Failing sensors, requiring teams to have a high-level model of the environment to continue working through a complete sensor “blackout.”

Teams had control over their system’s suite of sensors positioned throughout the workcell, made up of laser scanners, depth cameras, intelligent vision sensors, quality control sensors and interruptible photoelectric break-beams. Each team chose a unique sensor configuration with varying associated costs and impact on the team’s strategy. Teams that focused on sensors requiring a higher level of processing -- for example, depth cameras in place of intelligent vision sensors -- gained a points boost for their overall lower system cost. The effect of this aspect of the competition was in full swing in the Finals, with the top two teams choosing sensor configurations that had only a single sensor in common.

The virtual nature of the competition enabled participation of teams affiliated with companies and research institutions from a range of countries. The diversity in the teams’ strategies to solving the agility challenges can be seen in the video of highlights from the Finals:

Scoring was performed based on a combination of efficiency, performance and cost metrics over 15 trials. Additionally, judges awarded points for novel, industry-implementable approaches to solving the agility challenges. The overall standings of the finalist teams are as follows.

The top three eligible teams will receive cash prizes.

Top-performing teams will be invited to present at an upcoming workshop that will be open to all, including those that did not participate in ARIAC. In addition to showcasing the various approaches used in the competition, we will also be exploring plans for future competitions. If you are interested in giving a presentation about agility challenges you would like to see in future competitions, please contact Craig Schlenoff (

Congratulations to all teams that participated in the competition!

Deanna Hood
Service Robot Simulator

In the past few months, Open Robotics worked together with Hitachi on a virtual robotics competition called ServiceSim, which focuses on human-robot interaction in an office environment. Competitors must control the ServiceBot robot to perform tasks such as finding a human guest and guiding them to their destination, while making sure the guest doesn't get lost.

The competition runs on Gazebo 8 and ServiceBot is controlled using ROS Kinetic. All the competition software, including all the SDF models of the office, from cubicles to bathrooms and coffee makers, have been released as open source, so anyone is welcome to reuse these for their own environments. The competition environment itself is also versatile and competitors can customize the task and practice in various scenarios.

Several improvements have been made to the simulation of human characters in Gazebo: they now have the ability to collide with objects in simulation and there are new plugins to make the human actors run or walk in given trajectories or while following a given target, with plenty of configuration options.

ServiceBot was modeled from scratch and its URDF description and ROS controllers are available along with the competition software. In addition, a reference solution to the competition which uses the ROS navigation stack and exercises the competition's ROS API, reading sensor data and controlling the robot, is offered as a starting point for competitors.

Hitachi and Open Robotics invite the community to try out the competition software, develop their own solutions to the tasks and try completing the competition with their own robots! Debian packages are available for Ubuntu Xenial or you can use Docker for convenience. Take a look at the tutorials to get started!

Louise Poubel
Going Underground

If you haven't already heard of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge (or "SubT"), it's time to start paying attention.

With SubT, DARPA "aims to develop innovative technologies that would augment operations underground. The SubT Challenge will explore new approaches to rapidly map, navigate, search, and exploit complex underground environments, including human-made tunnel systems, urban underground, and natural cave networks."

DARPA announced SubT back in December, but Program Manager Dr. Timothy Chung recently announced that Open Robotics has been charged with creating and running the simulated track of the challenge.

Unlike our involvement in the DARPA Robotics Challenge in which we created a simulated environment in Gazebo for a single robot – the Atlas, SubT allows for a wide variety of robot participants.

You can read more about it in today's Wired: DARPA'S Next Challenge? A Grueling Underground Journey

DARPA will be announcing more details at the SubT Challenge kickoff in Fall 2018.

Nathan Koenig
Getting ready in Singapore

As we announced back in March, we're opening a new office in Singapore. And now we're happy to report that the office itself is coming together, with furniture and some rugs:

with rugs by conf table and desks 1.jpg
space desks and conf table.jpg

We're located in Block 81, which is part of a complex specifically designed for startups and other small companies, complete with a faux-repurposed-industrial look to the buildings and the nearby Timbre+,  which is a kind of mash-up of hawker market, food truck, and hipster bar. We're looking forward to getting to know our neighbors in the other companies that are operating nearby.

We'll be posting open positions for the Singapore office soon, so if you're in that part of the world and want to join the Open Robotics team, stay tuned!

Nathan Koenig
ROSCon JP coming to Tokyo in September 2018

After several years of holding ROSCon in various locations around the world, we've received inquiries from groups that want to hold their own versions of ROSCon, in the local language and designed for the local audience. We're happy to announce that the first of these events will be held September 14, 2018 in Tokyo: ROSCon JP 2018. If you're a Japanese-speaking ROS user or developer, please make plans to attend!

Guest speakers will include Min Ling Chan from ROS-Industrial APAC and  Brian Gerkey from Open Robotics.

We look forward to seeing exciting new results from the Japanese ROS community!

Nathan Koenig