The open source Robot Operating System created by Willow Garage is in the process of moving to the Open Source Robotics Foundation. What does this mean for its future?
A week ago a news story was circulating that cast doubt on the future of ROS, the Robot Operating System who's 5th birthday we recently celebrated.
The news that Willow Garage was undergoing changes was initially reported by IEEE Spectrum with the suggestion was that the company that created not only the Robot Operating System (ROS) but also the PR2 personal robot and TurtleBot robots was shortly to close.
Willow Garage was quick to respond with a statement that confirmed it was undergoing a fundamental transformation but that the future of ROS and PR2 was not at risk. The full statement issued on February 11 is:
Willow Garage has decided to enter the world of commercial opportunities with an eye to becoming a self-sustaining company. This is an important change to our funding model.
The success of the PR2 personal robot and of ROS will continue. There are close to 50 PR2 robots in the world and Willow Garage support of the platform will not diminish. And of course, ROS, as an open source platform, will continue independent of our business model choices. In addition to Willow Garage, its supporters include the Open Source Robotics Foundation and all the other contributors in the ROS community (academic, industrial and individual) who have made it the platform of choice for Robotics.
A statement from ROS-Industrial on February 14 suggested that ROS moving to the Open Source Robotics Foundation
(OSRF) was't sudden but had been pre-planned:
What has not been widely communicated is that the Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF), an independent nonprofit company founded last summer with support from Willow Garage, was chartered in-part to become the long-term home for ROS core development, ROS wiki hosting, and ROS answers support.
The news that three members of the ROS team have moved from Willow Garage to OSRF, and that OSRF is recruiting more staff also comes as positive news.
All-in-all the outlook for ROS seems more positive this week that it did a week ago.