Collaboration of Nvidia and Qualcomm in Open Source Robotics Alliance to Advance ROS Development

The Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF) this week announced the launch of the similarly named Open Source Robotics Alliance (OSRA). The new initiative is designed to maintain development for and maintenance of open source robotics projects, with a particular focus on the OSRF’s own robot operating system (ROS). First released in 2007 by erstwhile Bay Area incubator Willow Garage, ROS has played a foundational role in robotics development for decades. In a show of support, Nvidia and Qualcomm have both signed on as “Platinum” members for the new alliance, along with Alphabet’s X spinout Intrinsic. Former Open Robotics CEO Brian Gerkey (who current serves as Intrinsic’s CTO) has been appointed to the OSRA’s board of directors.

The Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF) has made a significant announcement this week: the launch of the similarly named Open Source Robotics Alliance (OSRA). This new initiative is dedicated to driving the development and maintenance of open source robotics projects, with a special emphasis on the renowned robot operating system (ROS) developed by OSRF.

Originally introduced by Willow Garage, a former Bay Area incubator, in 2007, ROS has served as a foundational component in the advancement of robotics for many years. To demonstrate their strong support for OSRA, both Nvidia and Qualcomm have joined as “Platinum” members, alongside Alphabet’s X spinoff Intrinsic.

The development of ROS 2 by Nvidia has enabled accelerated computing and AI for developers, researchers, and commercial applications. As an inaugural member of OSRA, our collaboration will further advance open-source robotics across the ecosystem by providing support for development efforts and offering governance and continuity to the community. – Nvidia VP Gordon Grigor

In a similar statement, Intrinsic CEO Wendy Tan White remarked, “At Intrinsic, we have demonstrated our commitment to the open source community through numerous contributions, including projects such as ROS, Gazebo, and Open-RMF. We have also solidified our dedication by acquiring Open Source Robotics Corporation (OSRC). As an inaugural member of OSRA, we are proud to continue our support for the ecosystem.”

Intrinsic took over Open Robotics’ commercial division in late 2022 and has appointed former Open Robotics CEO Brian Gerkey as their current CTO and to the OSRA’s board of directors.

In terms of structure, it seems OSRA follows the standard model for tech industry consortiums. According to OSRF, it follows a “mixed membership and meritocratic model,” similar to other open source alliances like the Linux Foundation. However, the level of meritocracy may depend on the level of membership an organization commits to, with pricing varying based on headcount.

Besides ROS, OSRA is responsible for governing Open Robotics’ Gazebo simulator and Open-RMF, a universal language used to promote interoperability across companies within the robotics industry. The inclusion of heavyweights like Nvidia and Qualcomm is expected to help establish and solidify such standards. Both companies actively participate in the creation of reference design robots, which serve as the basis for various robot manufacturers.

Other members of OSRA include Clearpath and PickNik Robotics. Silicon Valley Robotics is serving as an associate member, while Canonical, the developer of Ubuntu, is offering support.

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Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

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