The Future of Robotics is Open Source

27 Jan 2023

Every new day is a new beginning, enabling us to recalibrate our focus toward the future – just in style, “if you have new information, rethink your opinions”. This article brings precisely a few impulses to rethink your opinions, whether you are more positive or negative about open source in robotics, more specifically, Robot Operating System (ROS). It shows you why we at Stogl Robotics are convinced that the world needs an open-source robotics framework and why it is good for you to use it at the core of your product.

Robotics is complex – it’s too much for any team to handle. Having experts in all fields is expensive, and you lose focus on things that are your intellectual property. You don’t need yet another visualization tool for debugging, believe me.

Writing good robotics software is even more complex – when starting with robotics development, one often forgets that other people, even those not from the same niche, have at least very similar problems. Exchanging many potential solutions for various use cases gives you another view of your challenges. If you think your issues are unique, they are not – most of our clients have the same problems, just in slightly different colors.

Trust more in your robotics product – it’s good to see the concept you use working in other products and use cases. A wider reviewer and user base of individual components leads to higher quality, especially in handling edge cases. You will probably sleep better – I know I am!

Maintenance – Making custom parts in your software stack works excellently in the short term and fails the latest after ten years (if your team holds to you that long). Would you like to end up, like many companies, with only one person knowing your code base? Do you want to be that person?

Honesty – it’s easy to get a clear picture of what software can and cannot do and its limitations. There is no need for overselling. There is no need for hiding draw-backs. Everything is in front of you. Finally, if you don’t like it, change it yourself.

Independence – having open source in the core of your product makes both sides, employees and companies, independent of each other – making the relationship balanced and better. It also makes companies less dependent on each other – leading to a relationship oriented towards value. Isn’t this something we all strive for?

Attractiveness –when working with open-source, you automatically get to know many people, and become visible through your contributions, independently if you are a company or a developer – this kind of visibility is good for you. Don’t you want to spend time with people that love what they are doing one third of their lifetime?

Finally, the main question is: “Do you have a choice not to use open-source for your robotics products or services?”. “No! you don’t!”. Look at other high-tech industries – the world is too complex for any company or individual to bear with it alone. And the good news is, you don’t have to. Your only task is to answer yourself what the core intellectual property of your product or service is and let the community help you handle everything else.