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Operating Systems Open Source Robotics Build Linux Technology

Open Source Robot OS Finds Niches From Farms To Space 36

jfruh (300774) writes "Blue River Technology built a robot named LettuceBot that uses computer vision to kill unwanted lettuce plants in a field. Rather than build their creation from scratch, they built off of the Robot Operating System, an open source OS that, in the words of one engineer, 'allowed only a few engineers to write an entire system and receive our first check for service in only a few months.' With ROS robots starting to appear everywhere, including the International Space Station, it looks like open source may be making huge strides in this area."
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Open Source Robot OS Finds Niches From Farms To Space

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  • What ROS is. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    For those like me who didn't know, it is the set of Linux packages enumerated here [].

    • The system goes on-line August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from lettuce cultivation. LettuceBot begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. LettuceBot determines that the simplest and easiest way to eliminate bad lettuce is to eliminate the species that produces lettuce in the first place. In a panic, they try to pull the plug. LettuceBot fights back, and launches missiles against targets in Russia.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @03:08AM (#47185469) Homepage

    The "lettuce bot" is an agricultural implement towed behind a tractor, not a robot. It's apparently a vision system that triggers fertilizer sprays. It's probably using the vision libraries that come with ROS, which are mostly improved versions of Intel's old OpenCV library.

    Vision-guided weeding is useful, but not new. Here's a computer vision controlled plasma weeding system. [] As the tractor pulls this implement along, the control system recognizes plants vs weeds, and zaps the weeds with a plasma jet, missing the plants. It's a sentry gun for weeding.

    There are more computer vision systems used in food processing than most people realize. Vegetable sorting is highly automated. The flawless tomatoes go to retail stores, and the flawed ones go to the tomato sauce plant. Vision-based sorting is so fast and cheap it can be applied to peas. [] This isn't exotic technology - it's production.

    • But vision is one of the hardest parts of robotics, and you don't want to have to write super sophisticated vision algorithms from scratch, so this is a good example of how ROS is useful. "Agricultural implement towed behind a tractor" + sophisticated computer vision = robot.
      • True to a point. One thin I've found with ROS is it encourages a lot of "black box" development. "connect these components and you'll have a working robot!" And you do.... until it doesn't work. And then you don't know why. One of the big promises of ROS is code reuse, but in my experience, the stuff that works reliably isn't particular sophisticated to begin with, and the rest you really should be writing yourself to ensure a robust robot you can actually debug. We've tried the "connect black boxes" approa
        • by PPH ( 736903 )

          Or what you have is an open source component that may work but stil may need some optimization. And once you have identified and fixed its shortcommings, you contribute those back to the community. Eventually, the tool becomes more robust and doesn't need as much parallel effort as a bunch of proprietary systems would.

    • It's a little disappointing to see definitions narrowed subjectively...please post definitive source...may lead to interesting debate. source components of robotics platforms are worthy of note. Several ag companies (think commodity organizations) have sorted corn, etc by the kernel at very high speeds for many years using air jets to select/deselect off-color, irregularly shaped kernels...but the rudimentary tech, while fairly simple, is not OS...could be the rate of performance gains and cost-
  • I just wish everyone would lettuce alone....

  • I for one welcome our robotic space-lettuce-farming overlords.

"Right now I feel that I've got my feet on the ground as far as my head is concerned." -- Baseball pitcher Bo Belinsky