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Episode 2: Robots in the Real World

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In this Episode

Robots are busy behind the scenes, contributing to a variety of industries. How do robots impact our daily lives? What tasks are they taking on and who’s using them?

SwRI robotics expert Matt Robinson says everything manufactured today is being touched by a robot! Join us as we discuss what robots do and what they are on track to accomplish in the future (think robots helping you around the house).

Plus, have you ever heard of open source software? It’s software available to anyone, anywhere and if you have access to the right materials, well, you could use it to build your own robot. Robinson tells us where to find it.

Tune in as we learn about today’s helpful, innovative robots!

Transcript

Below is a transcript of the episode, modified for your reading pleasure.

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LISA PEÑA (LP): Robots are taking on new tasks and even working alongside people. Where are they being used and what do they do? Plus, open-source software: what is it, where can you find it, and how can it help you build a robot? It's all next on this episode of Technology Today.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

We live with technology, science, engineering, and the results of innovative research every day. Now, let's understand it better. You're listening to the new Technology Today Podcast presented by Southwest Research Institute.

Hello, and welcome to Technology Today. I'm your host Lisa Peña. Today, robots in the real world. It's the 21st century, and robots are a part of life.

We may not see them, but they're often behind the scenes making things run smoothly. So, what do they do, where do robots fit in, and how can we build them ourselves?

Our guest today is Matt Robinson, a robot expert and engineer at Southwest Research Institute and Program Manager for ROS-Industrial. And he's here to answer all of our burning robot questions, and we have a lot of them. Thanks for being here, Matt.

MATT ROBINSON (MR): Thanks. Thanks for having me, Lisa.

LP: So let's start at the beginning--

MR: Sure.

LP: --of the robot conversation. What do robots do for us today?

MR: Well, that's a great question. You know, robots are sort of becoming somewhat omnipresent, if you will, right, to allude to your intro. Obviously, in the manufacturing sector and industrial sector is where I spend most of my time.

They're about in everything. Everything we're making is, in some context, depending where it's made, is being touched by a robot, conceivably. We're seeing a lot of activity and movements of materials within factories, order fulfillment, obviously, discrete manufacturing processes, welding, moving parts around, and now in other markets as well. So you're seeing maybe a lot of literature and uptake into home care--

LP: A-ha.

MR: --right, and different types of service industries, you know, bringing an extra toothbrush to your hotel room. So we are seeing a much, let's just say...

LP: A wide range of uses.

MR: Yes. It's definitely seen significant growth, particularly in the last five years.

LP: Wait a sec...so a robot can bring an extra toothbrush to my hotel room?

MR: Yeah, yeah. So there's actually a company Savioke. They actually released, I believe the first instance was in Singapore, basically, this service robot in the hotel application. Correct, yeah.

LP: Pretty neat, wouldn't mind staying in the hotel.

MR: Yeah, very popular.

LP: So some of the more popular industries then would be automotive maybe--

MR: Correct.

LP: And maybe flight or aerospace?

MR: Yeah, yeah, the manufacturing applications in those sectors. Automotive, obviously, is well-publicized, right-- the pictures of the automotive factory with essentially, like, thousands of discrete robot arms producing automobiles.

But, you know, when we think about the frontier or the edge, there's still a lot of progress and opportunity even in automotive, particularly in the final assembly spaces, things where people are still doing a lot of touching and that's where you hear about emerging trends around on collaborative robotics. So there's still a lot of opportunities, but our world is impacted quite a bit today and a lot is being done via robotics technologies.

LP: OK, so a lot of big uses for these robots. And we do live with machines and appliances in our homes but, realistically, how far away are we from having robots servicing our day to day needs in our homes? Is that in our future?

MR: Well, you do have kind of like the beginning of that future, if you will, with the Roomba.

LP: Ah, yes.

MR: I mean, right? Yes.

LP: Everyone's favorite vacuum.

MR: Exactly. And you're like, oh, yeah. Technically, that is a robot.

LP: Uh-huh.

MR: And it is, right? So we are seeing reliable and very high performing home service robots with very, like, focused application specific, like just doing vacuuming. But there is definitely a vision or a future where these robots can be doing potentially a little bit more.

There's also the autonomous lawnmower, for instance, right? Or there's been applications and products out there for shoveling your walk.

LP: OK. Now, this is useful.

MR: Yeah. And then, of course, in the construction space, so similarly abstracting that and extending those capabilities to road repair, right? Filling potholes, etc, right? So we're seeing a real growth and the supporting software as well that enables these sort of application developments.

LP: Very "Jetsons" of us.

MR: Rosie, right?

LP: Right.

MR: Everyone's looking for a Rosie.

LP: So let's talk about ROS-Industrial. ROS is R-O-S and that's short for Robot Operating System.

MR: Yeah.

LP: So tell us about this software project.

MR: Right, right. So the Robot Operating System now is over 10 years old. It was started by a company called Willow Garage, some folks that came out of Stanford [University]. And they were working on service robotics, actually, for the home. Some really great videos of their work on a robot called the PR2, where its folding laundry or, let's say--

LP: Nice.

MR: --bringing a developer some beer--

LP: Ah, perfect.

MR: --you know, really game changing stuff.

LP: Yeah.

MR: And about six years ago now, Southwest Research Institute was dabbling and starting to adopt the Robot Operating System for some unmanned ground systems, the navigation capabilities within ROS. And it dawned on the manufacturing robotics team here at Southwest Research that, hey, this is some nice capability. It'd be nice to use it for our custom robotics applications.

So they embedded an engineer at the time, Shaun Edwards, into Willow Garage. And he took with him an industrial robot in collaboration with a Motoman or Yaskowa Robotics. And they created that first bridge between ROS and industrial robotics. And that was the birth of ROS-Industrial. So ROS-Industrial persists today as now a global project, where we're seeking to bring together the powers of the Robot Operating System, ROS, to industrial applications and hardware.

LP: Tell us about open-source software. What is it? And how does someone get involved in it?

MR: No, those are great questions. You know, I came from…I'm relatively new to Southwest Research Institute. And I came from industry. I spent 14 years at Caterpillar.

And it was definitely somewhat of a new idea. And there was a lot of resistance into, let's say, the old school industrial sector about, like, some skepticism, if you will. But one of the things that ROS helped bring to the fore is, like, hey, I can have this reusable content, right, so these foundational building blocks.

And there's some other tools to make use of those, right? And then the third leg of that stool, if you will, is this open-source ecosystem. And it's really proving to be a very valuable tool because it enables collaboration, right, to develop new capabilities, continuous improvement, as well as a rich set of ways to continuously improve those capabilities and refine the roadmap and then see those capabilities extended to new applications, right, and, of course, access to talent with all the university engagement, right?

So we now are seeing a much tighter coupling between the students and those trying to do new things or even those who would invest into new things. And because it is fully open, right, we can inspire those with an interest or a passion or in robotics to get involved. And that's been a really exciting thing to see, particularly for those in the industrial sector where talent recruitment, getting them excited about industrial applications, has been difficult in the past.

LP: So open-source software is, basically, software that anybody with an interest can kind of go in there and contribute to it, use it--

MR: Use, yes.

LP: --build from it.

MR: That's, typically, where it starts, right? Yeah. So, right. I mean, I’m very much, when I go out and talk in different circles, be they industrial end users or other potential development partners, or OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] that sell widgets that would like to play nice with the ROS ecosystem, that's what we talk about, right?

We start with, well, pull it down and use it. Kick the tires. Here at the Institute, right, for instance, we contribute a lot to the open-source ecosystem. And we always encourage. Like, hey, you may not go with our solution. But, hey, pull it down and play with it.

Give us feedback. Because even just the criticism helps that rising tide to lift up more than just our boat. And that's really the vision we're trying to sell.

We do also reach out to these other communities. We encourage, obviously, our industrial partners. But even if it's university kids or even young people who aren't really sure yet what their passion is, I'm like, hey, you've got a decent computer and an internet connection. You can be developing capability relatively quick, right? There is a learning curve. Let's not--

LP: Yeah.

MR: I will not gloss over that. And that's actually--

LP: I would expect so.

MR: Right. And let's just say the broader ROS community is constantly seeking both a really nice tutorial infrastructure, so there's really great YouTube videos out there, a lot of content that's immersive. There's a lot of groups providing educational resources. And, of course, now, universities are teaching classes in ROS.

But then there’s obviously all kinds, because it is open-source and the code is all available, you can also grab other applications or project examples and mix and match and build on something new. So, you know, I've had the pleasure of working with a number of developers. That is their story.

They're not roboticists or CS people, Computer Science people, by trade. They had a passion and an interest and just dove in and became capable. And that's an exciting story.

LP: So that's the beauty of this open-source software, is anyone really with an interest can open it. And you do have to have some know-how, some skill in that area. But you can open the software and read it and build and possibly now build your own robot. Is that possible?

MR: Well, conceivably, obviously, there comes a point where, and that's a challenge on our industrial side, right? At some point, you need access to industrial relevant hardware, which isn't always free, if ever--

LP: Yeah.

MR: --free. But at the same time, there are a number of let's just say lower cost platforms should you want to take it to hardware. And, obviously, the nice thing about ROS is that it comes with a nice visualization and/or simulation environment. So you can do a lot virtually and get things moving, say, on the screen, so to speak.

And you can make a lot of hay that way, right? And then, eventually, ideally, you can get access to some hardware and take it to hardware, as we like to say. You know, there’s like I said, I touched on it, right?

There's a lot of different support. Both the community itself, right, so ROS answers or ROS discourse. There's also, like I said, just a number of people contributing really interesting self-help and tutorials. And then, of course, like some of the other like, let's say even we here at the Institute we offer training as well.

And then, of course, actual development tools-- to your point, right, you can pull it in. But we also offer complimentary, what we call, you know Integrated Development Environments, IDEs, to help basically provide, if you will, a little bit more user-friendly experience for doing the actual building, as you say, or the developing. So all of that has really helped to lower the bar or the barrier to entry for people to become somewhat capable.

LP: So, obviously, there are a ton of benefits. Sounds like a great place to just explore and learn. But are there any downsides to making software available to everyone?

MR: So I would say the biggest thing is kind of steering the ship. I mean, right? So when you have like a very diverse community, right, it can be hard to, let's just say, adhere to a constant vision.

What that means is, like, say we have like a necessary target here, right? So we have a lot of industrial stakeholders that are interested, right? So we also have the ROS-Industrial is this project, right? But we get a lot of feedback from industrial stakeholders, right?

It's a consortium that backs it. And they provide a lot of feedback for the types of capability they're looking for. And so we try to throw, if you will, targets out to the community to kind of shepherd that development. But steering that ship, when it's a lot of people really working on their own time, is difficult.

So that is somewhat of a downside. And the challenge is we can get a lot of fragmentation of the capability. Meaning, I'll go to like, say, a traditional industrial company. And they're like, well, how do I know which capability to use? There's like 35 variants, right?

And so keeping it sort of organized, what is the best path forward, which one is making it appear a little bit more robust than maybe it currently is, it is not a polished product. And we understand that. And that's why we're all working on it together to set a vision and, ideally, work towards something that is a little bit more, let's just say, ready to go for industrial applications.

And, well, the good news is we're making progress. But, you know, it's definitely not solved. And that's something of a risk. And getting industrial stakeholders to kind of buy into that, that's something we're still working on as well.

LP: So progress is key here. And that's great.

MR: Yeah. And we try to show it through communication tools, events and tools like podcasts--

LP: Right.

MR: --presentations. You mentioned one of the prior presentations I gave when I first came in the room. That was actually an interesting event where it was very much a traditional automation audience.

You know, someone asked before I spoke. How many people here have used an open-source tool to solve a problem for a client? And I was like the only one who raise my hand.

LP: Yeah.

MR: So there is still a lot of resistance to the notion of open-source. Is it robust and reliable? You know, who is there supporting this when it's in a factory? You know, we are talking about maybe, you know, damaging a product, right, that can't be damaged, because I lose money as a company.

People might be operating near it. Is it adhere to accepted safety standards? And so those are all, obviously, practical concerns. And those are things we have to address and take that feedback and try to implement into that roadmap revision.

LP: But if you have the know-how and the willingness to kind of work through the issues and tweak where, where is needed, sounds like a great place to--

MR: No, absolutely.

LP: --a pot of gold, really.

MR: Right. We still foster or try to encourage a lot of this idea of anybody participating, right? I mean, the longest journey starts with a single step, right? So, you know, we want to keep people jazzed about, you know, developing capability, putting stuff out there. Certain times, like a totally new approach or perspective, may not be ready for prime time, so to speak. But it could really light a spark for a whole new way of doing something. We definitely don't want to--

LP: Yeah.

MR: We definitely want to enable that sort of innovation, if you will, right, and be able to iterate on a new path when it makes sense and if it emerges.

LP: I love it, inspiration, innovation, perfect. So how do we find open-source software? Do I just, you know, google it? What's the standard way to find software?

MR: Yeah, worst case, you can always resort to googling.

LP: Yeah.

MR: But to be a little bit more efficient, right, for instance, on the ROS-Industrial side, we house everything over on GitHub. That's a very common resource. You know, for those interested in ROS, you know, you can start at ros.org, right?

So if you type in ros, ros.org is probably the first result that pops up and as well as like all the different references and resources available. There's, obviously, a lot of complementary open-source relative to ROS that actually, technically, is outside of ROS. If you start, like, say, with ROS, I mean, there's a lot of great ways to end up getting a bigger picture of the full ecosystem, right?

But as far as where it resides, like I said, we house everything over on GitHub. There's also GitLab. There's a couple other different services where the software resides and it's fully available. There's a number of different development tools to enable that sort of access. But, really, it can be as simple as googling.

LP: Yeah.

MR: But, obviously, we try to provide resources to our partners to make it a little, so to speak, easier to find.

LP: Yeah. So ros.org is a great place to start, R-O-S dot O-R-G.

MR: And, of course, yeah, R-O-S dash I dot O-R-G for the industrial variant.

LP: So one of the big topics right now is collaborative robots.

MR: Yeah.

LP: Cobots as they are called.

MR: Yes.

LP: What are these cobots? What do they do? Where do we find these attentive robots?

MR: Yeah. No, it's definitely an emerging, let's just say, technological space, development space. You know, right now, in the last 10 years, it's been largely focused around a certain type of hardware that's become available, come to the fore, largely due to its price point and availability.

So that's usually a classification of hardware called power enforce limited. And what that means is this piece of hardware operates at a low enough power and applied force that, if it bumps into you, it won't do great harm. There's always--

LP: Which is just nice.

MR: --subject to, you know, safety considerations.

LP: Right.

MR: A robot with a knife is still dangerous no matter how softly it's moving.

LP: Yeah.

MR: Notwithstanding, though, I mean. But that’s the advent or introduction of that type of hardware into the marketplace really opened up or opened a lot of eyes to maybe, like, hey, we can think a little bit differently about how we deploy automation. Because when you think about small companies or small users that don't have deep pockets, it's not just the robot itself was expensive.

But adding all of the extra things to make it do something meaningful was expensive. And then making sure it was properly caged, so it didn't hurt somebody, was also very expensive. And it required a lot of rethinking how you laid out your operations.

So all of those became very high barriers to entry. So this new type of hardware enabled a new way of thinking for how maybe I can automate an application. They also came along with much more intuitive interfaces to program them.

And they have, like, touch screens, almost looks like an iPad tethered to the robot. And that lowered the barrier to entry to also just do basic programming. Of course, most of them also have really nice interfaces, too, ROS as well.

LP: Yeah.

MR: And so we can do things like leverage, let's just say, high-end sensors to do perceiving and grasping and a lot of these like high-mix material handling applications. And so that's where ROS and the collaborative robot kind of came together.

LP: And so collaborative robots, the bottom line is they work very well alongside humans.

MR: Yes. I always have to tie it back to my corporate upbringing. Obviously, every application needs its own safety risk assessment. But, yes, by and large, there is the proper application if it's selected. And you use the right tools. You can deploy it in an uncaged fashion where it's somewhat safe to be around people.

There's also these other forms of collaboration, where people can say, like, push on the robot, and it moves in response to that pushing. We call it hand-guiding. There's also what we call speed and separation monitoring, where the robot can respond differently as it observes you, right? So, and that can be observed in a number of different sensor ways, if you will.

And so there's all these other types of collaboration or modes of collaborations that are emerging. I'd say speed and separation is where the most active advanced research is going. And that's a really exciting space. And we're seeing some really interesting developments, hopefully, coming to fruition here in the next couple of years.

LP: OK, a lot to look forward to.

MR: Exactly.

LP: So let's talk about you, Matt Robinson.

MR: Uh-oh.

[LAUGHTER]

LP: So, what was your introduction to robots? What sparked your interest in this field?

MR: Yeah. So I came out of school and ended up at a Caterpillar in manufacturing, research, and development. And I was originally developing an application to do exhaust systems for on-highway trucks. And we had some pretty stringent requirements as well as a lot of them to make in a short period of time.

So we pursued an automation strategy. And it dawned on us, well it dawned on me pretty quickly, because I was kind of a one-man show, right? We spun off this little group to go do this process. That, like, wow, there's some interesting capability here in leveraging a robot to do these tasks we were looking at doing.

A lot of it was around, like, welding the mufflers together, if you will. And when we got to actually trying to do this work, it was like, why does it have to be so hard? You know, the native programming interface that the robot provides you out of the box, the industrial robot provides you out of the box, it's not intuitive.

It's hyperspecfic to itself. And it's very, very limited in its capability in a lot of ways. When we think about everything we have available to us, when you think about the contemporary smartphone, for very small package, it does quite a bit. The industrial robot, not so much.

LP: Yeah.

MR: And then like for just very incremental features, it was very expensive. And then in certain cases, for our add-on features, they had their own programming interfaces. And so, though, we did solve a lot of challenges. And the robotic experience there laid a foundation for me to-- like, yeah, this is a really great tool to solve complex challenges. It did let me, like, I had this laundry list of things that, wow, if these could be better, right?

LP: A wish list.

MR: If the robot could, like, just respond dynamically to some changes, if it could, like, re-plan, if I developed the capability of a yellow robot, if it would work great on a blue robot without redoing it all from scratch, and that basically started the genesis. And then, of course, when we discovered ROS, that changed our whole automation approach, if you will, right? We rethought how we were doing it. And I think you're seeing that sort of mindset and the types of things you see in the ROS ecosystem permeating themselves into industrial and manufacturing applications. And that's an exciting thing to see.

LP: So what do you love most about your work about this field?

MR: Well, so, obviously, coming to Southwest Research Institute, the really exciting part has been the diversity of the projects that happen here. So, you know, it was one thing at Caterpillar, you know, I had my muffler project, or I would have a hauling truck project. And they were all very exciting in and of themselves.

But, here, being able to extend the type of capability, like, oh, well, we did this type of project for making an airplane. And then like, well, well, we're not making an airplane this time. We're doing a car. Well, no problem, right?

Both the diversity of what we're trying to do, how we can leverage the common tools, and with, there's, obviously, always the details. But by and large, with relatively little effort, we can grab those base components, refactor them in a somewhat subtle way in a lot of cases, and have brand new compelling capability. That's pretty exciting.

And then the fact that, like, we get to work with a very diverse set of end users, like, hey, this is what's really important for us. We really want our people to be safe. We want to get them out of, like, a hazardous operating condition.

We want to, basically, have it be autonomous, but leverage the expertise of our people. And that's really interesting, too, right? So a lot of cases, right, they're, like, oh, I don't want these people touching my very expensive product, my jet plane or whatever.

But I have these very skilled people. I would like them, as the robots, say, makes a plan to make this part, the expert that's there, can he tweak it? Like, so we have to enable those sorts of interfaces.

And those are conversations. And it's very different from customer to customer. And those interactions are, obviously, very exciting. And just getting the feedback from people, like be it whether they pull the software down themselves and experiment with it or they're just, say, taking advantage of the end capability or sometimes bringing those two groups together, that's been really exciting.

LP: Yeah, so you're really stretching the capabilities of the software of your robot.

MR: And, ideally, we add it. And so one interesting thing here at the Institute is that we have this opportunity to develop something new in certain cases. We'll identify a gap, develop it new. And we have this ability to open-source it or make it available to the community.

So one recent example is trajopt [Trajectory Optimization for Motion Planning] right, which came out of a disaster relief program for humanoid robots. And so Levi Armstrong, he brought that into the ROS ecosystem and then made it very accessible and usable for industrial applications. And so leveraged that path planning capability now for industrial use cases.

And we've made it fully open-source. And, now, people are kicking the tires and giving feedback. And that's really exciting to see.

LP: So when we talk about industrial capabilities, you mentioned welding. I've heard painting, especially--

MR: Yup, surface treatment processes.

LP: --large planes--

MR: Yeah.

LP: --for instance. What are some of the other capabilities that our average listener might understand?

MR: Yeah, yeah. So a lot of things like sanding, painting. We've done a lot of like, say, sorting of packages.

LP: OK. Heavy lifting?

MR: Yeah. There are certain situations, obviously, anything that involves grasping and moving. We've done some things where it's sort of like assisted teleoperation, if you will, where it's like I'm kind of remote control driving. But there's a certain level of intelligence to make it less complicated for a remote operator.

That can be extended to grabbing things or interacting with things. Obviously, there's an historical challenge around welding. We're doing a lot of things around cutting. We've done things where we're trying to do, like, let's say leverage hand tools, but then leverage the robot to actually do the cutting over these, like, hand tools or with these hand tools.

We're seeing a lot of interest in, like I said, these collaborative use cases or where the robot can work in close proximity to people. And sometimes the people even provide feedback. Response to human markings, for instance-- guy draws a circle. The robot can see the circle and then do a process inside the circle, for instance.

LP: Yeah, that's something.

MR: So this idea of leveraging, like, say advanced sensors to drive robot action, and we spent a lot of time doing that.

LP: And so these collaborative robots, I understand, can also read barcodes and those--

MR: Oh, yeah.

LP: --barcodes kind of can tell them what to do and how to move.

MR: We can use them in a number of different ways, right? Because they can give cues to orientation. They can, obviously, contain information. But like I said, right, I mentioned the person with a marker. They're not going to write a barcode.

LP: Yeah.

MR: I mean, so we're even extending that to doing human--

LP: To shapes.

MR: --shapes, human reading. Like, I can write something and interpret it. We do a lot of… Like so, for instance, like a casting, right, might have cast into it human readable markings, numbers and letters, alphanumeric.

We can extract those and read them and make decisions based on those as well. We're facilitating now some new capability, some very recently released capability around machine tools. So the CNC [computer numerical control] type cutting machines can communicate with the robots and communicate what they need.

And the robots can respond dynamically, create new plans based on what they say they need. I could be a new tool. It could be maintenance. It could be a new part.

So that's the kind of capability that it's more impactful, even not just for robot capability, but for factory capability, so taking that capability up a notch. And so that's been really exciting. And then, of course, making it mobile, putting these robots on wheels and letting them run around and do stuff, that's another--

LP: Yeah, let them do their thing.

MR: --really exciting development here in the near term.

LP: Wow. So it sounds so futuristic, now, this is real life. This is happening.

MR: Yeah.

LP: And they're really adding to a number of industries--

MR: Yes.

LP: --capabilities.

MR: Right. So we're seeing a lot of uptick in, obviously, industries that rely a lot on, let's just say, moderately skilled human labor, right, where we can actually add a little layer of intelligence via ROS or complementary tools like ROS to basically emulate that kind of like mid-range skill capability. And we're seeing a lot of pull for that type of capability. And we're excited to be showcasing it in our new collaborative robotics lab.

LP: Yeah, here at Southwest Research Institute.

MR: That's right.

LP: So what do you envision for the future of robots? What's your dream?

MR: Right. So, you know, what I would like to see is, obviously, you know, continuously moving the needle with respect to the things we can do, right? So it's no secret, right? We would like to continue to make things in the United States. But we need…

Where are the people that make them, all right? So I don't know about you. When I was asked in school, hey, does anyone want to weld on third shift, no one was raising their hand, right?

So how do we create these capabilities to enable manufacturing at the point of use, right, and that could be here in the US, where it's cost effective for those doing it. Yet we get the quality and performance that we need to make these high-quality product that people want. That's really exciting.

And then, of course, we also talk about dangerous and hazardous jobs. Like, how do we de-risk? How do we take people out of these conditions that we just don't want to put people in at risk?

There's all these other things, capabilities around-- you know, you hear a lot about food service. Home health care is very interesting and exciting. There's a real opportunity there to enable people to stay in their homes longer. And these are things to get really excited about that don't just, say, get you excited from a technical capability perspective, but also have kind of humanity aspect that can be somewhat motivating as well.

So we talk about that. Obviously, we keep trying to lower the barrier to entry to the development side as well. So I was recently approached about, hey, what can I do to enable access and leverage of ROS for our FIRST Robotics teams.

That's high school. I mean, right? I just saw a podcast recently come up about introducing ROS to undergrads, right? So that's still something people talk about. How do we do that for high-schoolers?

There was recently at the recent ROSCon in Madrid, there was a team called The Zebracorns that presented their high school experience leveraging ROS and what a difference maker it was for their team. I mean, they were flown out to Spain to give this presentation, because no other high school team is doing this. That's a sign of an area we need to improve.

LP: So where can we catch you coming up in April? I know you were talking about a big conference in Chicago.

MR: Yeah, yeah. So ROS-Industrial Americas, along with Southwest Research Institute, we have a big exhibit we're going to be doing at Automate Chicago at McCormick Place in April. So it's a pretty big automation conference located with PROMAT. And we'll also be having our ROS-Industrial annual meeting at that time where we get together all those interested in ROS for industrial use cases.

And we talk about different initiatives going on. We give a lot of presentations as well as do, like, hey, those interested, give us your feedback. What should we be working on?

So keep an eye out for that. We'll have information over it rosindustrial.org [spells out org]. And we look forward to, obviously, interacting with folks over there in the Midwest and in Chicago.

LP: So thank you for joining us today, Matt. This has been an enlightening conversation. Thank you for taking us into the future with robots and all their many uses.

MR: Sure.

LP: It's been great having you.

MR: Thanks for having me, Lisa. I appreciate it.

LP: And thank you for listening today.

Subscribe to the Technology Today Podcast to hear in-depth conversations with the people, like Matt Robinson, changing our world and beyond through science, engineering, and technology.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

SwRI robotics expert Matt Robinson tells Lisa Peña that everything manufactured today has been touched by a robot. And open source software is playing an ever-increasing role.

Learn more about our Collaborative Robotics Laboratory.


About Technology Today Podcast

Technology Today podcast launched in November 2018, offering a new way to listen and learn about the technology, science, engineering and research impacting our lives and changing our world. The podcast is presented by Southwest Research Institute, a nonprofit contract R&D organization developing innovative solutions for government and industry clients. Podcast host Lisa Peña is breaking through the tech jargon and talking to the scientists, engineers and researchers building the future of technology. It’s a conversation bringing tech to life and helping us understand how technology, science, engineering and research link to our daily lives.

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