So here it is as promised, a proposal to the community working group for Aerial Robotics within ROS.
What it boils down to is that we want to bring together aerial robotics enthusiasts within the ROS community and learn from each other. Aerial vehicles pose unique challenges that set them apart from ground robots, and there have been many projects and stack developments for aerial robotics in ROS alone. Just a few examples of communication development include xcre-dds in both PX4 autopilot and Ardupilot, and efforts have been made to provide standards in the form of REP-147. In terms of navigation stacks, such as Universidad Politécnica de Madrid’s Aerostack2, and at ROScon 2022, Fernando from Upenn presented the Kumar Robotics Autonomy Stack, but it happens to be that there are many other aerial autonomy ROS stacks out there. Also, there are many aerial robotics simulators that have bridges with ROS like Gazebo, but also Airsim, Flightmare, Webots, and more seem to be appearing every year. Moreover, there are other factors such as UAV-based control, different types of vehicles (quadcopters, flapping wings, fixed-wing/VTOL), safety, and regulation. So, there are many aspects to aerial robotics alone and we feel that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Our foremost goal at first is to gather information and present an overview of all the aspects revolving around aerial robotics. To gather information, we will organize regular meetings, providing a platform for those who work with aerial robotics to present their projects and challenges. Meanwhile, we will gather this information from the result of the meetings or parallel research with the members and eventually collect them on the working group website and/or a report/presentation. Once we have a good view of the state of the aerial robotics landscape, then it will be time to address the possibility of improving challenges and standardization.
Since our first focus will be mostly about the gathering of information for this overview, this will be community-driven for now. This way we will have the time and freedom to initialize this working group and converge on several subprojects. I’ve made a Github organization for this workgroup to gather all the information: https://github.com/ROS-Aerial where the preliminary charter can be found in the community repository. It’s all still under development but this will change soon with all your help! At the current state both me and @mrpollo will be facilitating this working group but we are of course hoping for your active contribution to the initial discussions.
Our main communication channel will mainly be here on Discourse within the Aerial Vehicle group with the wg-aerial-robotics tag, but at our next meeting we can discuss additional ways to talk to each other. I’ll propose the start-up meeting in a new discourse thread, which will be all about starting up the working group.