The OSRC Team is Joining Intrinsic and What it Means for the ROS Community

Hi Everyone,

I’ve got some exciting news to share!

But first, some terminology: By now I am sure you have seen me correct someone and say we’re “Open Robotics,” not “OSRF;” and this distinction is important for understanding the nature of this post. The reason we call the organization Open Robotics is that it is actually the combination of OSRF, the Foundation, a non-profit that holds the ROS, Gazebo, and Open-RMF intellectual property, and its for-profit subsidiary Open-Source Robotics Corporation (OSRC).This arrangement exists to protect the ROS, Gazebo and Open-RMF intellectual property in a non-profit, while still allowing the Open Source Robotics Corporation to engage in paid work to support our open-source projects.

Now, the news: Today we’re happy to announce that the Open Source Robotics Corporation (OSRC) team is joining Intrinsic, the robotics software and AI company that is part of the Alphabet family of companies. OSRF and Open Robotics, and by proxy, ROS, Gazebo, and Open-RMF, will remain as an independent nonprofit organization. We’ve outlined all the organizational and structural details in a separate blog post which you can find here. We understand that this announcement may come as a bit of a surprise, but we believe it will allow the project to grow faster, and will also allow us to make some organizational changes that benefit the entire community. To understand why, I’ll first describe what’s happening and then discuss why these changes are beneficial to the community.

For starters, this new arrangement isn’t particularly new. OSRF, the Foundation, will still be in charge of the open-source intellectual property, project governance, growing the ROS, Gazebo and Open-RMF communities, and continuing with its mission, just like before. OSRF will be the administrator of the Github organizations, continue running the project websites (,, Discourse, Answers, etc), putting together ROSCon, and developing the TurtleBot. Basically, if it is an open-source tool or project it will stay with the Foundation. Vanessa Yamzon Orsi, the current Open Robotics CFO will serve as the OSRF CEO, with Geoffrey Biggs as CTO. The name “Open Robotics’’ will also live on as a brand under the direction of the Foundation. The OSRF team will lead the transition to a more participatory and durable governance structure for the projects, similar to that found in The Cloud Native Computing Foundation and other projects under the The Linux Foundation. OSRF will be working closely with the membership of the ROS 2 Technical Steering Committee to create this new structure.

The OSRC team, as Intrinsic employees, will continue to be involved in the development of ROS, Gazebo and Open-RMF as contributors alongside the many developers worldwide who work to improve the projects. From the community’s perspective, the team will continue writing features, fixing issues, merging pull requests, making releases, and generally contributing to the projects day to day. We will have dedicated bandwidth to work on core ROS packages, Gazebo, and Open-RMF.

Intrinsic’s mission is to “democratize access to robotics.” That sounds an awful lot like OSRF’s own mission, to “support the development, distribution, and adoption of open source software for use in robotics research, education, and product development.” Just like OSRF and its community, Intrinsic believes that an essential way to achieve this goal is through supporting a strong open-source robotics community; and they are making a big bet that accelerating the development of the ROS community is the right way to get there.

You may be asking yourself, “why are we making these changes?” The short answer is that we think this arrangement is in the best interest of the projects, the user community, and the robotics industry. We believe that this approach will accelerate the development of the projects while simultaneously improving engagement with our user communities. For example, the new governance model will allow OSRF to more easily engage with companies and other organizations that are contributing to the projects. And, having divested of its commercial arm, the Foundation will be able to focus more clearly on the outreach and educational aspects of its charitable mission.

All three projects have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams, transitioning from their humble roots as a set of shared tools used by researchers, to projects that power many of the robots people encounter in their daily lives. We realized that we can’t continue to support this burgeoning community on our own, and that we need a philosophically aligned and well-resourced partner. We are excited to have found in Intrinsic such a partner, with “the right stuff” to help us take our open source software and our community to the next level.

While the next few months may come with growing pains, some things don’t change. ROS 2 Iron Irwini will ship next May on World Turtle Day, and Gazebo H will ship next September. If we do this right, we’ll see features and capabilities in the ROS 2 J Turtle release in 2024 that otherwise wouldn’t have been ready until M Turtle.

You can read Intrinsic’s announcement here. Intrinsic aims to democratize access to robotics by building a robotics software and AI platform for developers, entrepreneurs and businesses. When we learned about their mission and how they were using ROS and Gazebo to pursue it, we knew we had an ideal fit. As Torsten, the CTO of Intrinsic, told us the other day, “The top priority for the OSRC team is to nurture and grow the ROS community." We’re excited for this next chapter, and even more excited about the opportunity to continue improving all of our platforms.

While the business arrangement has been finalized, a change like this takes time. We will be grateful for the community’s patience while the team transitions between organizations. It’s a big next step for our team and the community, and we don’t have every detail finalized. But in the meantime, you can assume business as usual. Updates will go out, working group meetings will take place, the build farm will generate packages, and email addresses will resolve. When things do change, rest assured that they’ll be happening on behalf of the Foundation and in full view of the community.

We know you have questions about this new arrangement, and we want to answer those questions as best we can. As you can imagine, today is also a very busy day, so we may not be able to get you a response immediately. So we have created a second thread where you can ask questions and the Intrinsic and OSRF teams will work to provide answers.


Why did OSRF enter into this transaction with Intrinsic?

​​The robotics industry has grown tremendously in size and complexity, and its need for reliable open source software continues to grow. This is exciting! At the same time, it has become increasingly challenging for OSRF, as a small organization, to meet the diverse needs of such a large and growing user community. OSRF could not simultaneously restructure to a more durable governance model while continuing to service OSRC’s customer commitments. This transition allows OSRF to focus on the core needs of the projects, to the benefit of the entire robotics community. Intrinsic is the ideal home for OSRC, where our team will have a greater ability to improve ROS, Gazebo, and Open-RMF so that they can be used in even more domains, with ever-higher demands for software quality, testing, and platform support. This expansive vision requires more resources than could have been assembled by OSRF on its own. With resources from Intrinsic and Alphabet’s track record of support for open source software projects, this was a conscious move that we believe will help the ROS community scale.


Who is moving to Intrinsic? Who will be with OSRF in the future?

The majority of the OSRC team are moving to Intrinsic. At the OSRF, former OSRC members Vanessa Yamzon Orsi and Geoffrey Biggs are now, respectively, CEO and CTO. The OSRF will also have outside contractors who will work to maintain and improve the infrastructure, such as the build farm, that the projects depend on. Going forward, the OSRF will examine the needs of the community, the contributions being made by the community, and its own resources to determine whether to expand its staff and in what areas to invest in additional staff.

We do not expect this to have any negative impact on developer contributions to ROS, Gazebo and Open-RMF. In fact, we expect a significant positive impact. The OSRC team has always been pulled in multiple directions, with most developers doing core development and maintenance in a minority of their time, because of customer project obligations. We only expect improvement from that status quo: with this new arrangement we anticipate the number of simultaneous responsibilities to decrease and at the same time the allocation of dedicated time for core development will increase.


What’s Brian’s new role at Intrinsic?

At Intrinsic, I’ll be leading the former OSRC team, working directly with the CEO of Intrinsic, Wendy Tan White. We will be contributing open source software to the community, continuing to work with our existing customers, and also building valuable new types of tools, products, and services for commercial customers with and on top of our open source tools.


What’s the future of Space ROS?

OSRF and Intrinsic do not expect there to be any impact on Space ROS and the Space ROS project will continue to be managed by OSRF (just like regular ROS). If you would like to discuss a potential collaboration on Space ROS development please reach out to OSRF.

cc: @ralph-lange


How will OSRF ensure the operation of the build farm, release process, websites, etc. in the short-term?

All of the community infrastructure is being retained by OSRF. The foundation has two contractors who have already been supporting the infrastructure who will continue to do so. In addition the OSRC team has time allocated for training and knowledge transfer to the OSRF team and will also be available to assist with any urgent issues.


Will there be a path for organizations to be involved with OSRF to help guide/steer the community?

Yes, absolutely! Organization support is important to the future of the OSRF. There will be more to come on this soon. If you are interested, please reach out to Brian, Vanessa and Geoff so we can discuss how your organization can contribute to the long-term future of open-source software for robotics.


Is there a charter for OSRF? similar to the ROS 2 TSC

OSRF has bylaws that govern its mission and day-to-day operations as a non-profit foundation, subject to the laws of the state of California. OSRF’s mission is to support the development, distribution, and adoption of open-source software for use in robotics research, education, and product development.


In the past, Open Robotics has offered consulting-style services to other organizations developing ROS applications. Will this continue to be part of the business model for either OSRF or OSRC/Intrinsic?

OSRF is no longer going to be pursuing the consulting services business model. But the OSRC team at Intrinsic will continue to do so. If you’re interested, please reach out to Brian or contact the team at Intrinsic.

Can you please elaborate on Intrinsic’s plans on ROS?

The continued development of ROS core and therefore growing the ROS community is a key objective for Intrinsic. Like many robotics companies, Intrinsic already leverages valuable tools from the ROS ecosystem, like Gazebo. While these tools enabled us to start building our robotics software and AI platform quickly, we also started to feel some limitations when it came to productization. Instead of overcoming these challenges just for our own team, we see the value in helping solve some pain points more holistically for our future platform users and the entire robotics community. Hence, on the one hand we are using ROS and related projects like everybody else in the community. On the other hand, as part of our platform, we aim to provide a more hardened environment for enterprise use, which could make it easier to deploy ROS at scale.


Will OSRC developers continue to contribute to the ROS “core”, or can we expect them to focus more at the application level on “Intrinsic’s near-term focus in industrial manufacturing”?

Yes, they will continue to contribute. To set expectations, the OSRC team has always been pulled in multiple directions, with most developers doing core development and maintenance in a minority of their time, because of customer project obligations. We only expect improvement from that status quo: with this new arrangement we anticipate the number of simultaneous responsibilities to decrease and at the same time the allocation of dedicated time for core development will increase. At Intrinsic, the team will have access to new team members, resources, infrastructure and opportunities to collaborate and innovate across the Alphabet ecosystem. We expect a lot of contributions back to the community from work that’s already been scoped, and interesting new projects to come.

Intrinsic wants to see ROS, Gazebo and Open-RMF be even more successful and for core libraries to be hardened for enterprise use and made easier to deploy at scale. To help achieve this they will support the OSRC team to continue doing what they have been so successful at so far. Intrinsic hopes to make it easier for roboticists to get from prototype to deployment, using the best of ROS and new tools. OSRF, not Intrinsic, will be responsible for directing the roadmap for ROS, Gazebo and Open-RMF Projects. The plan is for the OSRC team to continue supporting the projects in accordance with that roadmap: writing features, fixing issues, merging pull requests, releasing packages and distros, and generally making the projects “go” day to day.

Is there a defined transition phase in which the former Open Robotics developers continue working directly on ROS in the known mode before the acquisition?

Prior to the acquisition, developers at OSRC split their time contributing to core repositories and servicing commercial projects. The status quo is not fundamentally changing, the OSRC team at Intrinsic will continue to service some existing commercial contracts. However, the team will have more time and resources to devote to core projects than they did before. Expect to see your favorite GitHub user handles just as often in the coming months!

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What does this mean for non-Open Robotics core maintainers and committers, in the short term and the long term?

In the short term, nothing will change for all existing core maintainers and committers. The projects will keep operating using the same processes as they have to date.

In the longer term, we expect the OSRF to put in place a more formal process for managing who becomes a maintainer and who has commit rights to core repositories. Through this process, maintainers and committers will become more broadly sourced and the projects will become more sustainable, with a diverse foundation of maintainers and committers spread across a variety of organizations, including individual contributors.


What will be the relationship between Intrinsic and OSRF?

OSRF is independent of Intrinsic. In the same way other companies and members of the community contribute to ROS and work with OSRF, Intrinsic will do so as well. As an Intrinsic employee, Brian Gerkey will keep a board seat at the OSRF. In the near-term, Intrinsic will be working closely with OSRF as OSRF transitions operational tasks and its governance model. Intrinsic is becoming a major contributor to OSRF’s projects due to its contribution of efforts from the OSRC team at Intrinsic. OSRF remains an independent non-profit welcoming significant resources and support from Intrinsic.