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Why are ROS releases named after turtles?

Curious about the ROS naming history, I dug a bit and ran across this podcast interview with Tully Foote, ROS Platform Manager from @TheConstruct in April 2019. The questions starts at around 31:30, and I figured it’d be worthwhile to capture here for posterity.

The release manager selects the name of each ROS release. Naming begins with community input (for example, see the discussion for naming N-turtle or ROS 2 G-turtle. The release manager also considers potential trademark conflicts, hidden meanings, pronounceability, search engine optimization, and similar issues before settling on a name.

There is no strict requirement to name releases after turtles (take Indigo Igloo, for example), but this has long been the convention. The first turtle-themed release was “Boxturtle”, the second release of ROS. “C-turtle” (pun intended) naturally followed as the third release.

The C-turtle release also introduced a much needed simple robot simulator for teaching ROS basics. This turtlesim simulator was based on Logo, a general purpose turtle graphics programming language dating back to the 1960’s. The ROS turtle theme was established.

Interestingly, the cursor used for drawing graphics within Logo is called the “turtle”. The initial Logo-inspired turtlesim release used a box turtle icon as the “turtle,” and turtlesim gets a new turtle icon with each release. The icon is randomly chosen when launching turtlesim.

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For more info, here’s a very old thread on the subject from Ken Conley:

  1. There are many of them, A-Z
  2. We like turtles
  3. It’s an allusion to the “world turtle”, as well as the Discworld turtle
  4. It’s turtles all the way down
  5. LOGO Turtle, the first “robot” that many of us programmed
  6. Turtle power!

Also, robot turtles in the 1940s

I really think there was a missed opportunity to name ROS2 after rabbits/hares to imply it is faster than ROS1.

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We could still do it. Its the first I’ve heard of the proposal but I’d support it. I do wonder if the art for the shirts would be any harder as a rabbit.

Indeed there’s no way that a tortise could best a hare :wink:

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Does the hare ever win the race though [1] ? :turtle:

A-tuin would make for great artwork if it was not for the copyright issue

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That would also fit well with Galactic G-turtle :sunglasses: