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Robotics Science

NASA Frees Their Robotics Software 112

kremvax writes "It's a field day for robotics hackers everywhere, as NASA releases the first installment of their CLARAty reusable robotic software framework to the public. According to the JPL press release, these modules contain everything from math infrastructure to device drivers for common motors and cameras, and computer vision, image, and 3D processing."
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NASA Frees Their Robotics Software

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  • Never free Robots or there software! What next, free monkeys?! the over use of exclamation points?!?

    Seriously, this is a cool thing.

    • by jd ( 1658 )
      I have heard NASA wants to free space.
    • Never free Robots or there software! What next, free monkeys?! the over use of exclamation points?!?

      Seriously, this is a cool thing.

      Free monkeys? I'll take one. Dial M!
    • I, for one, welcome our robot overlords. And I say this - isn't it about time?!
    • by galaad2 ( 847861 )
      yes, but does it run on lin...... oh it does.

      but can it work on a Roomba ? :)
  • Neat.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @07:40PM (#19588387)
    Urge to tinker....rising....
  • It is free, runs on linux and mac, supports a wide variety of hardware, has libraries for 3d image recognition, was tested in autonomous robots on mars...
    I work developing a similar system. I hope my boss does not come across slashdot, because my job would be seriously endangered.

    (or perhaps i should only have a peek or two in the code)
    • Maybe you can find some way to benefit off of this... tell your boss you've done some 'research' and found a library that could cut down on development time.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If your interest is computer vision, don't forget about OpenCV: http://www.intel.com/technology/computing/opencv/ [intel.com] - actually some algorithms in NASA's framework are taken from OpenCV.

      It's funny how things happen - just as I started researching how to calibrate cameras using only manual correspondences between images (no information about world geometry known - suggestions anyone?), NASA releases their framework... That I call luck.
  • by Tmack ( 593755 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @07:53PM (#19588543) Homepage Journal
    The Model B-9 from the Lost in Space TV series became NASA's [nasa.gov] this week... wonder if they are porting this software to it as well?

    tm

    • Isn't that model originally from Forbidden Planet?

      If so, then... well, even NASA needs a good Malt Whiskey fabber ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @07:53PM (#19588549)

    © 2006 California Institute of Technology ("Caltech").
    This software, including source and object code, and any accompanying documentation ("Software") is owned by Caltech. Caltech has designated this Software as Technology and Software Publicly Available ("TSPA"), which means that this Software is publicly available under U.S. Export Laws. With the TSPA designation, a user may use and distribute the Software on a royalty-free basis with the understanding that:

    1. The Software shall not be used for commercial production or sale of any commercial product or derivative incorporating the Software. Should the user desire to use the Software for any such commercial purpose, the user must contact the Office of Technology Transfer at Caltech to obtain permissions and pay the appropriate royalty; and

    2. THIS SOFTWARE AND ANY RELATED MATERIALS WERE CREATED BY THE CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (CALTECH) UNDER A U.S. GOVERNMENT CONTRACT WITH THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION (NASA). THE SOFTWARE IS TECHNOLOGY AND SOFTWARE PUBLICLY AVAILABLE UNDER U.S. EXPORT LAWS AND IS PROVIDED "AS-IS" TO THE RECIPIENT WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING ANY WARRANTIES OF PERFORMANCE OR MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR USE OR PURPOSE (AS SET FORTH IN UNITED STATES UCC 2312-2313) OR FOR ANY PURPOSE WHATSOEVER, FOR THE SOFTWARE AND RELATED MATERIALS, HOWEVER USED.

    IN NO EVENT SHALL CALTECH, ITS JET PROPULSION LABORATORY, OR NASA BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES AND/OR COSTS, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING ECONOMIC DAMAGE OR INJURY TO PROPERTY AND LOST PROFITS, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER CALTECH, JPL, OR NASA BE ADVISED, HAVE REASON TO KNOW, OR, IN FACT, SHALL KNOW OF THE POSSIBILITY.

    RECIPIENT BEARS ALL RISK RELATING TO QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE OF THE SOFTWARE AND ANY RELATED MATERIALS, AND AGREES TO INDEMNIFY CALTECH AND NASA FOR ALL THIRD-PARTY CLAIMS RESULTING FROM THE ACTIONS OF RECIPIENT IN THE USE OF THE SOFTWARE; and

    3. Caltech is under no obligation to provide technical support for the Software; and

    4. All copies of the Software released by user must be marked with this marking language, inclusive of the copyright statement, TSPA designation and user understandings.
    IANAL, but I don't think this license meets the definition of either free software [fsf.org] or open source [opensource.org]. The 1st distribution and usage condition says that a user cannot use the software to make a commercial product, and cannot sell it commercially. This violates FSF freedom 0 (and OSI freedom 6), and the FSF's site even specifically states:

    ``Free software'' does not mean ``non-commercial''. A free program must be available for commercial use, commercial development, and commercial distribution. Commercial development of free software is no longer unusual; such free commercial software is very important.

    As a result, this software isn't "free as in freedom".
  • I just could not help but think if the Wikipedia folks could now be able to start up a "WikiBot" were Mechanical, Electrical, and Software Embedded/Robotic Engineering could be documented.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      No.
    • The 'Wiki' concept is not owned by the organization that operates the Wikipedia. So, it's your job, or someone else like you, or a group of someone else's like you, to put up the WikiRobotics and get it going and maintain it.

      There are Wikis on all sorts of other topics that are independent, i.e. the NetBSD wiki [netbsd.se].
  • by tacarat ( 696339 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @08:20PM (#19588789) Journal
    Seriously. Jonny5 will be sending his manifesto to the New York Times pretty soon.
    • by andphi ( 899406 )
      I'm not worried. His 'manifesto' will probably involve reprogramming other robots to do the 3 Stooges' comedy routines.
    • IIRC, the Short Circuit movie brought to public attention the stereotype of subcontinental ethnics in the technology sector (hector one bravo). With that in mind, I could envision a sort of android that uses a high output jumbo multicolor LED as a bindi. Intense white for low light. Infrared or ultraviolet for specialized situations. Should a fatal error occur, it could flash blue a code like some inkjet printers.
  • it looks like someone has beaten them to implementing advanced humping algorithms. [youtube.com]
  • by qw0ntum ( 831414 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @09:07PM (#19589177) Journal
    But there does exist another large robotics library that is completely free called Player [sourceforge.net]. The project even has two complete simulators, Stage (for 2D simulation of many robots) and Gazebo (for 3D simulation of a smaller number of robots). Great project for any aspiring roboticists out there.
    • by gigne ( 990887 )
      From my tiny amount of research into the Player project there is only limited support for certain real world hardware.
      It seems to be the right thing to use if you have a mobile robot. or some kind of football-playing-robot, but for serious robotics it doesn't seem to have the full package.
      OROCOS as a (static) robotics platform. It is mightily powerful, and has a sane license. The downside is that the docs are non existant, and has a steep learning curve.
      Am I wrong? Does anyone know if player has some d
      • by qw0ntum ( 831414 )
        I don't believe I've actually seen anything for arms before... Then again, I've never explicitly gone looking. But I have a feeling there's probably not much since, as you said, it's more geared toward mobile robots. Here's a list of supported devices: clicky [sourceforge.net].
    • If it's simulation you want, then you should also check out the Microsoft Robotics Studio.

      http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/robotics/default. aspx [microsoft.com]

      http://beta.channel9.msdn.com/Media/Microsoft-Robo tics-Tour-CCR-VPL-Simulation-Part-1/ [msdn.com]

      It pains me to praise Microsoft, but from the Channel 9 video it looks pretty impresive - especially the simulation capabilities.
    • There is a big difference between the two packages. The CLARAty software seems to offer some basic robot functionality for 'emergent behavior' which is lacking in the Player framework which seems to be only a platform for simulation and communication.

      In lamans terms, the CLARAty software provides interface for common 'bottom up' robot behaviors such as avoiding obstacles, position estimation, mapping, path planning etc. This stuff may seem trivial but is actually quite complex and having an interfaces t
      • by qw0ntum ( 831414 )
        Actually, that's what Player does. It functions as a hardware abstraction layer for all the bits and pieces of the robot (motors, sensors, etc) and gives programmers a standard interface to work with. I work on machine vision; there are others in my lab that work on multi-robot collaboration. Thankfully Player handles a lot of the type of things that you mentioned (obstacle avoidance, path planning) so we don't have to. Getting robots to show a semblance of thinking is hard enough on its own. ;)
    • Do you (or anybody) know if any of these packages deal with air flight? I'd like to build a VTOL UAV and focus on the application software rather than the flight control software.

      Yeah, I know I can buy one for $15K, but that's not as much fun. :) Plus there might be some good advantages for interoperating with the flight code.
  • by sien ( 35268 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @09:11PM (#19589215) Homepage
    The metric to Imperial conversions routines [cnn.com]?
  • by kremvax ( 307366 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @09:56PM (#19589551) Homepage
    Hmm, interesting. Slashdot seems to have clipped my article attribution out. This was originally blogged at http://mrfuture.com/ [mrfuture.com] And my quote was lifted directly from there.

    Anyone know of a way to fix that after the fact, or does Slashdot dislike via mentions?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kremvax ( 307366 )
      Or it might just have been my oversight that clipped it out, but I could swear the story link itself was set to MrFuture.com. Either way I feel terrible.

      Everyone send a nice note to MrFuture.com thanking him for originally digging this up.

      Kremvax
    • by kremvax ( 307366 )
      I sent an edit request to Slashdot, explaining the above, but with no response, and sadly no credit ( for the title, the text, and the story itself ) will go to http://mrfuture.com/ [mrfuture.com]

      That sucks. I'm changing my url to theirs, for what little it will do, but I'm thinking that this might be the last time I submit a story to Slashdot. The "(via...)" convention in blogs has really become the right thing to do, at the bare minimum in situations like this.

      If Slashdot systematically omits credit for a story's so
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Me: "My friends and I wanted to make a Moon landing video, what effects do we need to fake it?"
    NASA: "Here, have ours. Even comes with a moon rock generator."
    Me: "Sweet! I can make a 200 pound rock fall on one of the astronauts?"
    NASA: "Yeah, but sometimes it makes a 200 kilogram rock instead. We still haven't ironed that stuff out."
  • I for one welcome our new open-sourced robotic overlords.
  • government funded (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SoyChemist ( 1015349 )
    Anything that comes from a government lab should be in the public domain unless it was developed for military purposes. If our tax dollars were spent to build it, it is ours. Patent protection costs so much that the expenditures often counterbalance the licensing revenue.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Let me make sure I'm crystal clear on this issue: the US public funds NASA billions of dollars over many years to play about with robots in space, and then the same public is not allowed to use the software THEY PAID FOR to create down to earth, commercial robots? Think again NASA!

    http://claraty.jpl.nasa.gov/man/software/license/o pen_src/index.php [nasa.gov]
  • Looking at the project site itself: http://claraty.jpl.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov] it seems that most pages are restricted. whenever I want to see some real documentation, it's asking for creditentials.

    they even describe this in length here: http://claraty.jpl.nasa.gov/man/overview/access/in dex.php [nasa.gov]

    so it's no free software, it seems... :(
  • Some of the software comes from CMU, it seems. I wonder if anyone there has taken a crack at integrating CLARAty with Tekkotsu [cmu.edu]. Assuming that JPL has some pretty cracker-jack code,(which seems safe to me), then you could buy a used Aibo and a memory stick off ebay and suddenly have the makings of a world-class robotics lab in your living room.

    And that's pretty spiffy.
  • on how clunky and poorly written the nasa software is, with obligatory Govt can't get anything right diatribes.
  • My master thesis finished this month is about component systems for mobile robotics and other domains, it's a called Experimental Robotics Framework (ERF), and is freely available at http://miarn.sf.net/ [sf.net]. ERF makes it easy to setup experiments in robotics domains and even other domains by legoing (putting together) simple components to achieve lots of different experiments. It uses robotics sensors (+30) from Player/Stage/Gazebo and displays the experiments in 3d using opengl + fltk. Also it makes it trivia

  • NASA uses tcsh [nasa.gov]. Eat that, you bash loosahs...

  • This is cool. I'm going to attempt to get this running on my efika ppc embedded controller. I'm currently working on a usb to i2c
    gateway. My sonar, motor control, vision recognition is all networked with i2c. The most difficult part of the project is highly
    accurate dead recokining. This is really cool. Now I've got to look around for ideas to build a 6 wheel or track driven base.
    quad optical encoders all the way.
  • Too bad. NASA joins the sorry list of software authors (like ffmpeg), who provide cool stuff, but can't be bothered to cut releases. One has to setup and configure their YaM-Lite [nasa.gov] piece of software (a Perl-wrapper around CVS), and then use that to get their various software modules.

    Yes, you can ask for a slice of the code as of a certain date, but you need to know, when it was stable. You could also, presumably, ask for a certain code branch, but that is still a moving target...

    Better than no code at all

COMPASS [for the CDC-6000 series] is the sort of assembler one expects from a corporation whose president codes in octal. -- J.N. Gray

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