The 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) wrapped up last month, and while teams from Korea and the U.S. took away $3.5M in prize money, the real winner was the open source robotics movement. Of the 23 teams competing in the DRC, 18 utilized the open-source Robotic Operating System (ROS) and 14 used Gazebo, an open source robot simulator that allows developers to test concepts in robust virtual environments without risking valuable hardware.
ROS and Gazebo fall under the stewardship of the Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF). Originally part of Willow Garage, a legendary Bay Area hardware developer and proponent of open source solutions in personal robotics, OSRF spun off in 2012 as a non-profit dedicated to advancing the development of open source platforms for the robotics community. In the wake of the fanfare surrounding the DRC, I reached out to Brian Gerkey, CEO of OSRF, to find out what the competition has meant to the open source movement and what the impact of open source solutions will be for the robotics industry in the years ahead.