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The State of Robotics – August 2020


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So that’s the summer gone (hopefully, that heat was awful). Or winter if that’s where you are. Seasons change and so does the state of robotics. Fortunately, that’s what we’re here for. Before we get into it, as ever, If you’re working on any robotics projects that you’d like us to talk about, be sure to get in touch. Fire an email to robotics.community@canonical.com, we’d love to hear about it and share it with our audience.

ROS Kickstart

Interested in getting started with ROS 2 but not quite sure where to start? ROS is huge, and even though there’s a ton of great documentation, it can be overwhelming just to figure out where to start. If you find yourself needing some guidance, check out the recently published tutorial and associated videos on ROS basics from your friendly Ubuntu Robotics team. They’re intended to introduce you to the fundamental concepts of ROS so you can dive into the more advanced documentation.

ROS and ESP32: Great Together!

The ESP32 system-on-a-chip microcontroller from Expressif can be a great, inexpensive and simple robot controller. The chip boasts onboard WiFi and bluetooth for connectivity plus a number of peripheral interfaces. And since it’s able to run FreeRTOS, why not add it to your ROS 2 system?

“Wait,” you say, “ROS doesn’t run on FreeRTOS!” Well, you’re right, but you should check out micro-ROS, a project that allows you to integrate such components into ROS 2, where support for the ESP32 was recently announced. A communications agent ties components like these into the rest of your ROS system. Check out the micro-ROS tutorials and get started building your own low-power ROS 2 IOT device! Did we mention that the communications agent is now also available as a snap?

Snap your ROS 2 Foxy Robot

The snapcraft CLI (the tool used to create snaps) has long had support for building snaps that use both ROS 1 and ROS 2. ROS 2 Foxy Fitzroy is the latest ROS 2 LTS, which runs on Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa), and the snapcraft CLI recently gained support for building snaps that use Foxy. This is an awesome way to deploy and update your ROS 2 application on your robots without needing to host your own infrastructure. Check it out!

RosWorld 2020: Join us!

ROS World 2020 is happening online on November 12th! Sure, it’s not the same as being there in person, and we’d love to see you there, but it’s being held right in your office, and it’s free! Besides, we’ll have a “Virtual Exhibit Booth”. No, we’re not sure what that means either, but it sounds like you can still come on by and chat with us.

An affordable robot dog

You know how much we like robot dogs in this newsletter, so you can imagine how hyped we were when we found out about the Bittle robot on Kickstarter. Developed by Petoi, it is a rather polished and capable hardware kit backed up by an ever growing community and open source software. The campaign is already quite successful as it reached its goal in a single day! But that’s not a first for Petoi as they are the ones behind Nybble, an affordable, adorable robot kitty financed through crowdfunding too. Have a look at the Kickstarter page for more info and some really cool demos.


For all the makers and hackers out there, if you have an open-source project or initiative you’d like us to showcase in this monthly series, shoot us a message on robotics.canonical@canonical.com. We’ll take it from there.

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