Advanced science.  Applied technology.


Robot Operating System (ROS)



Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has used the Robot Operating System (ROS) as an enabling technology to develop complex intelligent systems. ROS is an open-source project that provides a common framework for robotics applications. With ROS, SwRI has been able to deliver technologically complex or previously infeasible systems for much lower costs. To date, SwRI has leveraged ROS applications in the areas of:

Industrial Robotics

ROS has been used for several commercial and internal research applications. Specifically ROS has enabled manipulation in dynamic and unconstrained environments.  Functional capabilities enabled by ROS, that extend above and beyond typical robot controller functionality, include:

Integrated 3D range sensors (time of flight, stereo vision). 3D point-cloud information is used natively by ROS software to:

  • Generate collision free robot paths
  • Identify and locate work pieces and/or obstacles

Custom Inverse Kinematics & Path Planning

  • Support for >6DOF robot arms
  • Singularity avoidance
  • Joint limit constraints

Well-Defined Robot Interface

  • Allows for comparison between robots
  • Decouples software development from robot manufacturer specific hardware/software

Autonomous Robotics

ROS has been used in the development of large autonomous vehicles for both military and commercial applications.  Functional capabilities related to autonomous vehicles include:

  • Automated Driving Systems & UGVs
  • Unmanned Aerial Systems
  • Vehicle interfaces including LIDAR, cameras, IMU, GPS, vehicle CAN bus, and actuation system
  • Real-time vehicle controller
  • Multiple path planners
  • Perception technologies including terrain classification, lane following, obstacle detection  and recognition
  • Persistent world model capable of fusing a priori map and terrain data with sensed information
  • Various autonomy modes including teleoperation, dismount following, convoying, and fully autonomous navigation
  • Simulation and data visualization tools