Ten years of open-source robotics

Saturday 26th March, 2022 - Bruce Sterling

*The participants seem pleased with the developments.


Ten years ago this week (more or less), the Open Source Robotics Foundation announced that it was spinning out of Willow Garage as a more permanent home for the Robot Operating System. We covered this news at the time (which makes yours truly feel not quite so young anymore), but it wasn’t entirely clear just what would happen to OSRF long term.

Obviously, things have gone well over the last decade, not just for OSRF, but also for Gazebo, ROS, and the ROS community as a whole. OSRF is now officially Open Robotics, but that hasn’t stopped all sane people from continuing to call it OSRF anyway, because five syllables is just ridiculous. Meanwhile, ROS has been successful enough that it’s getting increasingly difficult to find alliterative turtle names to mark new releases.

To celebrate this milestone, we asked some of the original OSRF folks some awkward questions, including what it is about ROS or ROS users that scares them the most.

First, some fun statistics:

Unique visitor downloads of ROS packages in 2011: 4,517

Unique visitor downloads of ROS packages in 2021: 789,956

Public Github repositories currently tagged for ROS or ROS2: 6,559

Cumulative citations of the original ROS paper (::cough:: workshop paper ::cough::): 9,451

Number of syllables added by changing “OSRF” to “Open Robotics”: 1

For a bit more history, we sent a couple of questions to some OSRF folks who go way back, including Brian Gerkey (cofounder and CEO, Open Robotics), Ryan Gariepy (cofounder of Clearpath Robotics and OTTO Motors and Open Robotics board member), and Nate Koenig (cofounder and CTO, Open Robotics)….