Robot Operating System (ROS)

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ROS is a community effort, with many institutions contributing to its development. Much of the underlying platform is being developed by Willow Garage and Stanford.

robot operating system

ROS is a robot operating system originally developed (2007) in the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in support of the Stanford AI Robot (STAIR) project but now (as of 2008) developed primarily by Willow Garage, a robotics research institute/incubator. It is free for commercial and research use under a BSD license. The library runs primarily on Linux but is intended to be cross-platform for Mac OS X and Windows. ROS provides standard operating system services such as hardware abstraction, low-level device control, implementation of commonly-used functionality, message-passing between processes, and package management. It is a graph based architecture where processing takes place in nodes that may receive, post and multiplex sensor, control, state, planning, actuator and other messages.

ROS has two basic “sides”: The operating system side ros as described above and ros-pkg, a whole series of user contributed nodes that implement functionality such as Simultaneous localization and mapping, planning, perception, simulation etc.

ROS is released under the terms of the BSD license, and is open source software.


  • ROS areas include
  • A master coordination node
  • Publishing or Subscribing to data streams (images, stereo, laser, control, actuator, contact …)
  • Multiplexing information
  • Node creation and destruction
  • Nodes are seamlessly distributed, allowing distributed operation over multi-core, multi-processor, GPU and clusters.
  • Logging
  • Parameter server
  • Test systems

ROS Package application areas will include

  • Perception
  • Object Identification
  • Segmentation and Recognition
  • Face Recognition
  • Gesture Recognition
  • Motion Tracking
  • Ego-motion
  • Motion Understanding
  • Structure from motion (SFM)
  • Stereopsis Stereo vision: depth perception from 2 cameras

Web site community for open source robot operating system is If you wish to find out about Willow Garage’s role in developing ROS, please visit the Willow Garage Web site.

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