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Open Source Robot OS Finds Niches From Farms To Space

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the why-not-linux-oh-wait dept.

Operating Systems 36

jfruh (300774) writes "Blue River Technology built a robot named LettuceBot that uses computer vision to kill unwanted lettuce plants in a field. Rather than build their creation from scratch, they built off of the Robot Operating System, an open source OS that, in the words of one engineer, 'allowed only a few engineers to write an entire system and receive our first check for service in only a few months.' With ROS robots starting to appear everywhere, including the International Space Station, it looks like open source may be making huge strides in this area."

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Why that makes perfect sense to me (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185413)

and I am so high I can small colors.

wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185437)

If Commander Keen taught me one thing, it's not to piss off the robotic lettuce. Oh, how the tables have turned my friend.

Re:wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185535)

You mean Cmdr Cody.

The password is: condom

and betty white had a cow

This is where open source makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185439)

This is where open source makes sense: you have something else to sell, which is the actual robots. That (hopefully) gets the software funded too.

What ROS is. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185453)

For those like me who didn't know, it is the set of Linux packages enumerated here [ros.org] .

Re:What ROS is. (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | about 8 months ago | (#47188191)

The system goes on-line August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from lettuce cultivation. LettuceBot begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. LettuceBot determines that the simplest and easiest way to eliminate bad lettuce is to eliminate the species that produces lettuce in the first place. In a panic, they try to pull the plug. LettuceBot fights back, and launches missiles against targets in Russia.

I wonder how the lettuces will retaliate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185457)

I wonder how the lettuces will retaliate.
Will they interfere wirelessly to create bugs in the robots?
Will one of them jump and stick to the robot, so another robot kills the first?
Will lettuces turn into high voltage lettuces to spark robots?

Re:I wonder how the lettuces will retaliate (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 8 months ago | (#47187053)

"I wonder how the lettuces will retaliate. "

They'll send some french chick named Romaine who'll trash the bots.

ROS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185463)

I've used ROS in comercial applications. I appreciate what they did in ROS. It is has many features, and they clearly put a lot of work into it. However, I couldn't figure out what made ROS useful. ROS is basically a framework, however, its functionality was mostly redundant. Unix already had good mechanisms to handle everything ROS was trying to do.

I can see how ROS would be useful in an academic setting. It can create a good sandbox for students so they don't have to deal with fairly complicated communications systems in UNIX, but in a product that sandbox is unnecessary, and generally more prohibative than enabling compared with than the standard systems. Further those standard systems have have considerably better support and much wider adoption.

ROS seems to be trying to abstract away a part of the problem that just isn't that hard to deal with.

Re:ROS (2)

rusty0101 (565565) | about 8 months ago | (#47185519)

Based on your observations, I would suspect that the intent of ROS is to let people get started with building a functional robot, without having to delve into the communications system to begin with. Whether the result is the least processor intensive solution possible is at best a tertiary goal. You don't write code in Java because it provides the fastest possible platform to run your code on. You don't develop in Python because you're planning on writing to the bare metal. You use these systems to put together a system that works for you, or that you can deploy in a changing environment, or across different providers hardware, or because you need something that works now.

Re:ROS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185543)

ROS seems to be trying to abstract away a part of the problem that just isn't that hard to deal with.

Their abstraction seems to be a lot more easy to use at least than Autosar Rte. But then Autosar doesn't have POSIX below...

Re:ROS (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185599)

I had to write software that's able to send commands to ROS robots. Since ROS is a framework and I only needed the communication part I just wanted to implement the (tiny) communication protocol myself.
The documentation was extremely vague, incomplete and did not match up with what their code actually did. Some claimed features weren't even implemented, although the code was extremely fundamental and not new or anything.
The code quality was also terrible for an easy task of serializing some data into a 40 byte packet. It also looked extremely Java-like (they basically reimplemented things like ByteArray in C++ instead of using the standard library). They also obviously didn't understand pointers.
I'd audit that code to the maximum before even considering actually using it.

Re:ROS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185693)

mod up. seems correct .IN absence of "all audit data".

Re:ROS (2)

HJED (1304957) | about 8 months ago | (#47185733)

It is designed for systems where you are using a large number of different technologies, possibly across multiple computers within the robot. (Although I raised exactly the same point you did when I started using it). It has a lot of existing libraries for various hardware components and makes it very easy to add more, which is very helpful when you don't have time to find and stick all the different libraries for these components together yourself.
That being said the documentation, and official tutorials are absolutely terrible and often contain out of date information, or tell you to do things which are no longer available in the current release. This can add a lot of time to projects.

Re:ROS (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 8 months ago | (#47186167)

I use ROS for two things only: the interprocess communication system (with the nice data logging capabilities) and rviz, the data visualization tool. They can keep the rest. Also, it irks me that they call ROS an operating system, when it runs on top of Linux.

Robotnic Space Farms (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185465)

I wouldn't be surprised that the Desert farms of the Ariel Sharon family were used as platform to develop biological weapons (WMD).
Interesting to note that in a google-robot-driven car, it only takes an hour or so to drive from the WMD farms to the Nuclear Fuel/Munitions factory outside of DImona.

Given that the space-program of the Israelis is publicly-promoted, and given that their robot UAV/drones are marketed worldwide to corrupt and dictatorial countries, it can only be logical to point out the following:
1. The Israelis have WMD-robots (and they didn't sign the NPT)
2. "They" also have WMD weapons in space (that's a big know-know)

It may, therefore, be advisable to utilise an "Open-Source OS" to track down ALL PROHIBITED ISRAELI WMD, both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial, for the benefiot of peace and security.

Signed on behalf of , ASIMO , unable to sign due to STUXNET/DUQU effects on cognative function.

The "lettuce bot" is mostly a vision system (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 8 months ago | (#47185469)

The "lettuce bot" is an agricultural implement towed behind a tractor, not a robot. It's apparently a vision system that triggers fertilizer sprays. It's probably using the vision libraries that come with ROS, which are mostly improved versions of Intel's old OpenCV library.

Vision-guided weeding is useful, but not new. Here's a computer vision controlled plasma weeding system. [visionweeding.com] As the tractor pulls this implement along, the control system recognizes plants vs weeds, and zaps the weeds with a plasma jet, missing the plants. It's a sentry gun for weeding.

There are more computer vision systems used in food processing than most people realize. Vegetable sorting is highly automated. The flawless tomatoes go to retail stores, and the flawed ones go to the tomato sauce plant. Vision-based sorting is so fast and cheap it can be applied to peas. [youtube.com] This isn't exotic technology - it's production.

Re:The "lettuce bot" is mostly a vision system (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185475)

As AC pointed out, the Negev farms of the late(?) Ariel Sharon, although great producers of tomatoes, citrus, etc, were also likely used in R&D for wmd (biological weapons).

The CIA/DEA used similar "automated vegetable sorting" when they determined which crops (weed and coca) to spray their WMD on back in the `80`s, based on satellite and reconnaissance photos.

Surely open-source can contribute to eradicating the Israeli WMD program?

Re:The "lettuce bot" is mostly a vision system (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 8 months ago | (#47185573)

You've been smoking too much weed of gray matter destruction.

Re:The "lettuce bot" is mostly a vision system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185673)

Surely, "KSK", you cannot be a supporter of WMD.
The government of the usa has OPENLY published that they developed poisons (including gmo-fungii) which were then dumped on Columbian arable areas which had been "identified" with hemp leaves and/or coca leaves.
Likewise, the israeli whistleblower, MORDECHAI VANUNU, exposed the clear and present danger of the israeli war-machine.

I dunno if you really are a Nip, as your nomme-le-Pen suggests, but if you are, you should have been informed that the Chinese government have consignments of israeli attack-drones primed and aimed at Japan (well, at least aimed at the American bases located in Japan).

Also,concerning the legalisation of cannabis and coca, prominent legislators out of the school of "Gray`s Inn" have come out in support.

Theres a million lawsuits-in-the-making against the us government for contaminating Columbian Gold.

Re:The "lettuce bot" is mostly a vision system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47187589)

The best way to prevent WMD attacks is with host files.

Re:The "lettuce bot" is mostly a vision system (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 8 months ago | (#47189003)

Yes, the US government should have simply seeded over the Columbian arable areas with industrial hemp and cross pollinated the entire crop making it pointless to grow pot there. They should have done this instead of dropping poisons.

But I'm not sure that it matters much unless you actually mean Colombian in which case I'm not sure it matters still.

Re:The "lettuce bot" is mostly a vision system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47186413)

Says the Space Nutter...

Re:The "lettuce bot" is mostly a vision system (1)

Singularitarian2048 (1068276) | about 8 months ago | (#47185731)

But vision is one of the hardest parts of robotics, and you don't want to have to write super sophisticated vision algorithms from scratch, so this is a good example of how ROS is useful. "Agricultural implement towed behind a tractor" + sophisticated computer vision = robot.

Re:The "lettuce bot" is mostly a vision system (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 8 months ago | (#47186147)

True to a point. One thin I've found with ROS is it encourages a lot of "black box" development. "connect these components and you'll have a working robot!" And you do.... until it doesn't work. And then you don't know why. One of the big promises of ROS is code reuse, but in my experience, the stuff that works reliably isn't particular sophisticated to begin with, and the rest you really should be writing yourself to ensure a robust robot you can actually debug. We've tried the "connect black boxes" approach, and by the time you've got a system that works the way you want, you've rewritten most of the code anyway.

Re:The "lettuce bot" is mostly a vision system (2)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#47186485)

Or what you have is an open source component that may work but stil may need some optimization. And once you have identified and fixed its shortcommings, you contribute those back to the community. Eventually, the tool becomes more robust and doesn't need as much parallel effort as a bunch of proprietary systems would.

Re:The "lettuce bot" is mostly a vision system (1)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about 8 months ago | (#47189365)

[sideband attempt 1 at obtaining a reply] I'm perfectly willing to burn the karma expended from potential "off topic" moderation of this comment to ask you the following question, which is likely to be considered highly "interesting" by anyone interesting in safeguarding privacy: Why haven't you replied to my last question [regarding TrueCrypt and the value of signing keys]? [slashdot.org]

Re:The "lettuce bot" is mostly a vision system (1)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#47191279)

Read your last [TrueCrypt] post and think about it.

Re:The "lettuce bot" is mostly a vision system (1)

spectrumlogic (2497494) | about 8 months ago | (#47191749)

It's a little disappointing to see definitions narrowed subjectively...please post definitive source...may lead to interesting debate. OTOH...open source components of robotics platforms are worthy of note. Several ag companies (think commodity organizations) have sorted corn, etc by the kernel at very high speeds for many years using air jets to select/deselect off-color, irregularly shaped kernels...but the rudimentary tech, while fairly simple, is not OS...could be the rate of performance gains and cost-benefit would improve with more eyes on problem...might even reach the farm level, where the help could tilt the balance of power toward the producer.

10-essential-economic-truths (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185563)


1) Government cannot create wealth, jobs, or income. Because government has to take money from somebody before it can spend it, there is no economic gain from anything the government does.

2) Income inequality does not affect the economy.

3) Low wages are not corporate exploitation. In a free country, people voluntarily accept employment, so all workers believe their current job to be the best choice from among their opportunity set.

4) Environmental over-regulation is a regressive tax that falls hardest on the poor.

5) Education is not a public good.

6) High CEO pay is no worse than high pay to athletes or movie stars.

7) Consumer spending is not what drives the economy.

8) When government provides things for free, they will end up being low quality, cost more than they should, and may disappear when most needed

9) Government cannot correct cosmic injustice.

10) There is no such thing as a free lunch.

On behalf of lettuce everywhere (2)

maroberts (15852) | about 8 months ago | (#47185571)

I just wish everyone would lettuce alone....

Re:On behalf of lettuce everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185655)

lettuce alone, or with onions at the Mayo clinic?

Re:On behalf of lettuce everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185939)


Robot Operating System is not an Operating System (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#47185703)

I work in scheduling research, and was puzzled not to know about ROS, but it seems that it's quite normal: ROS is not an OS, it's a sort of communication middleware.

Oblig. (1)

shikaisi (1816846) | about 8 months ago | (#47185963)

I for one welcome our robotic space-lettuce-farming overlords.
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