Open Robotics Turns 10 Years Old
Written by Lucy Black   
Tuesday, 05 April 2022

This year Open Robotics, formerly the Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF), the organisation which is the primary maintainer of ROS (Robot Operating System), the open source 3D robot simulator Gazebo and the set of Ignition libraries, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.


Willow Garage announced the formation of The Open Source Robotics Foundation, in May 2012. The mission of the new non-profit organization co-founded by Brian Gerkey and members of the global robotics community was:

 to support the development, distribution, and adoption of open source software for use in robotics research, education, and product development.

While this news seemed to come out of the blue, in fact the OSRF had been incorporated on May 22, 2012 and the catalyst for an organization independent of Willow Garage was the DARPA Robotics Challenge. At the same time as DARPA announced the world’s first-ever robotics simulation event, the DARPA Challenge for disaster robots, it announced that teams that didn't want (or couldn't afford) to build their own robots would be able to use a standardized simulation environment based on the Gazebo simulator.

By this time Gazebo already had almost a decade of history, having originated as a component in the Player Project an initiative founded in 2000 by Brian Gerkey, Richard Vaughan and Andrew Howard at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles, which set out to create free software for research into robotics and sensor systems. 

The precursor of the Robotics Operating System (ROS) was work that had started pre-2007 at Stanford University by Eric Berger and Keenan Wyrobek who as PhD students were leading a Personal Robotics Program. Morgan Quigley was another of the original authors at Stanford. ROS then took shape at Willow Garage, alongside the PR2 robot, before being passed on the OSFR. 

Willow Garage was founded in 2007 by Scott Hassan, who had worked with Larry Page and Sergey Brin to develop the technology that became the Google Search engine. Steve Cousins was it CEO with Eric Berger and Keenan Wyrobek as Co-Directors and Brian Gerkey as Director of Open Source Development. In 2013 we carried the news that Willow Garage was "undergoing a fundamental transformation" and that the future of ROS was with the Open Source Robotics Foundation and that three members of the ROS team have moved from Willow Garage to OSRF to ensure a smooth transition. 

open robotics

OSFR became Open Robotics in May 2017, with Brian Gerkey as CEO and Morgan Quigley as Chief Architect and in its latest blog post, A Decade of Open Robotics, it claims:

After ten years we’ve managed to release nine ROS 1 distros, eight ROS 2 distros (about to be nine), eleven Gazebo distros, and coming up on seven Ignition distros. The interest in ROS has grown to the point where we needed tooling to integrate multiple robotic systems together, so we’ve also created a fifth open-source project, Open-RMF

It is also thriving as an open source project and the blog post notes:

Along the way the community has kept pace and has continued to introduce an incredible number of ROS packages to augment the core capabilities of ROS. Looking at just public Github repositories, there are 5852 repositories tagged for ROS and 707 ROS 2 repositories.

osfr 10

So Happy 10th Birthday to Open Robotics and to long may ROS continue to thrive.



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