Well timed, well supported and gearing up for an immediate project with the DARPA Robotics Challenge.
It had always been the intention of the open source movement to create an independent body that could take open source robotics and grow it. Growing it meant to push it out beyond its place of nurturing and early maturity, which was Willow Garage.
Now the intention has become reality as leading members of the global robotics community who are committed to open-source robotics have founded the Open Source Robotics Foundation, Inc. (OSRF) an independent non-profit organization. The mission of OSRF is to support the development, distribution, and adoption of open source software for use in robotics research, education, and product development.
“The reality is,” reports Steve Cousins, CEO of Willow Garage, “that the popularity of open source robotics in general, and ROS specifically, has grown beyond our wildest expectations. Willow Garage will enthusiastically support the goals of the OSRF (Open Source Robotics Foundation).” It’s adding money to its enthusiasm: Willow Garage as well as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are the Foundation’s initial funders.
Dr. Brian Gerkey, Director of Open Source Development at Willow Garage since 2008 will leave the company to become the foundation’s CEO. Joining Gerkey on the Board of Directors are Prof. Dr. Wolfram Burgard, University of Freiburg, Germany and head of the Laboratory for Autonomous Intelligent Systems (AIS); Ryan Gariepy, co-founder and CTO of Clearpath Robotics a robot maker in Kitchener, Ontario; Ms. Helen Greiner, a co-founder of iRobot and currently CEO of CyPhyWorks. Greiner serves also as the elected President and Board Member of the Robotics Technology Consortium (RTC), a non-profit organization established to speed the creation and deployment of ground robotics technology and Sam Park, executive vice president of Yujin Robot, South Korea.
First on the OSRF agenda is ROSCon 2012, the ROS Developers Conference, proceeds from which will go to support OSRF. The inaugural ROSCon will take place immediately following ICRA 2012 (May 19th – 20th) in St. Paul, MN.