I’m unsure if this is the right forum to discuss ROS related business ideas or not, if not please let me know where the right place is.
I have this vision of a fully open source industrial robotics controller based on ROS-I. This includes hardware and software, basically, everything that you need to drive a robot from the motor drivers up or alternatively to drive a robot with an existing proprietary controller.
I have the feeling that it’s still quite hard to get started on using ROS for an industrial application, because of many factors, not only involving the complexity of the ROS platform.
What’s missing from ROS at the moment are following pieces. I’ll also add my ideas on how to solve them.
- a robot command/programming language, equivalent to what you have for industrial robots - that’s only necessary if you want to skip the vendor’s controller
- An easy to use online programming HMI, well, that’s doable.
- A low-level real-time capable platform to drive the robot if you are not interested in using the vendors’ controller. Machinekit + ros_control work for this.
- A reference hardware platform. I know applications are diverse, but having a common ground to start from just makes things a lot easier. An RT Linux capable platform, preferably with low-level IO access, which is powerful enough to support CV and machine learning applications should do. Turns out the Up2 is a good candidate.
The opportunity I see here is to build such a platform. For a client, this platform would give following benefits, compared to using a proprietary robotics controller.
- No vendor lock-in.
- Easy and intuitive programming, thanks to the great HMI and teaching capabilities.
- Leverage the whole ROS eco-system for your application.
- Rebrand the product for your application.
- A reference platforms makes it easy to get started, more focus on your core business.
How to make money with this business?
- Sell the hardware/software as a turnkey solution.
- Provide consulting services around ROS, robotics hardware and so on.
- Use dual licensing for commercial and open source applications.
- Provide paid premium support for the platform.
The goal of this project is to make using industrial robots more affordable and accessible by leveraging the power of ROS.
Status: Idea, partially proof of concept
I would very much appreciate your feedback if you think this is a reasonable idea and what kind of applications you see for such a platform.