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ROS-Industrial, merging ROS and the industry

ROS and open source software have increased in popularity in the last few years, mainly in universities and research centers. The industry is now trying to modernize its manufacturing processes, and are seeing ROS as a viable approach for solving new and more complex manufacturing problems.

ROS-Industrial was created in 2012 to develop collaboration between ROS and the industry. Until now, manufacturer processes have been based on simple and repetitive tasks performed by robots, but in the last few years there has been an increasing demand for more dynamic and intelligent robots that can perform more difficult tasks. It offers high level tools and programs that can solve this difficult tasks, thanks to the collaboration of universities and open source software.

The industry can benefit from the research and development that has been created around ROS. Its framework provides excellent tools for visualization and Human Machine Interaction, which can ease the use of these robotics systems by personal not considered robotic experts. The standardization of it, and its advantages in the industry will also mean a faster deploy time of advanced robotic systems in the manufacturer places.

On the other hand, ROS can also benefit from the symbiosis created by ROS-Industrial. For example in the form of new drivers created by the arm manufacturers. This new robotic arm drivers could be used by universities and researchers for new development projects. Also, there are an increasing number of tools being improved by ROS-Industrial, like tools for navigation, perception, manipulation and calibration.

In navigation, ROS-Industrial has improved the moveit package to optimize arm path planning.

It has also developed a calibration library that allows to calibrate cameras extrinsically using a robotic arm.

And, what can we expect of ROS-Industrial in the near future? One of the most expected features is the compatibility of ROS and ROS-Industrial with Microsoft Windows. ROS is a Linux-based software, but Windows support will help the acceptance of ROS-Industrial in more manufacturing environments. For now, ROS-Industrial is delaying Windows support until the release of ROS 2.0, which currently does not have a release date, but released its first alpha version in September 2015, so a final version could still need some more time to release.

In conclusion, ROS (based on open source software) is currently an important framework for research, development and industry. And big companies are trying to use this progress to improve its manufacturer process. In the future, ROS could become and standard in the industry, and this could benefit all the ROS subsystem, including universities and researchers.

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