[ros-users] ROS 2.0 Strategy review

BiggsGeoffrey geoffrey.biggs at aist.go.jp
Sun Sep 27 01:02:19 UTC 2015

I always feel a little sad when someone paints the entire catalogue of OMG specifications with complaints against a technology from several decades ago. To anyone who has heard about how bad CORBA is, I encourage them to try out a recent version (in particular, the C++11 API). It’s not bad and it’s not slow. It’s good at what it was designed for, which is a distributed object system.

Having said that, DDS is much better for our needs, because it has a different focus.

Regarding the patents issue; the OMG specifications are open and freely available. There may be patents covering parts of them, but this is the same risk that any software, open or closed, faces in many parts of the world these days. I would be very surprised if someone couldn’t find a part of the zmq source that infringes some unknown, ambiguous software patent.

As for zmg being a “known thing”, DDS is known, too. It may not be as well-known by those who prefer open source, but for the many, many companies and institutes who use it, it is known and trusted. If it wasn’t meeting their needs, they would be instead pouring those expensive licensing fees into improving zmq or developing their own in-house technology. They don’t keep their experience a secret, either. I have spoken with people from industry who have enjoyed complaining about the problems they’ve had with DDS – and then gone on to mention that their chosen implementer fixed those problems promptly because they wanted to keep getting paid. Sure, in the open-source world we can fix problems we find ourselves (I hope you don’t need safety certification), but this doesn’t mean everyone keeps their experience a secret.

The OSRF made a sensible choice to chose an open, standardised protocol with many implementations, both commercial and open-source, available. Anyone who wants to implement the RTPS protocol can do so, while anyone who doesn’t has the choice between open-source implementations (fun fact: at least one of them uses CORBA internally) and commercial implementations. (Not every issue about this has been resolved yet; there are still concerns that Thibault has pointed out with different nodes using different implementations.)

Good wire protocols are hard, and leaving it up to the experts gives the OSRF more developer time for the robotics things that go on top.

If you still don’t like or want to use DDS, well, ROS is open source! The OSRF has abstracted DDS behind a messaging API. You can implement a version of the API that uses IPoAC if you like! I would travel to ROSCon just to see that talk.


From: ros-users <ros-users-bounces at lists.ros.org<mailto:ros-users-bounces at lists.ros.org>> on behalf of Linas Vepstas via ros-users <ros-users at lists.ros.org<mailto:ros-users at lists.ros.org>>
Reply-To: "linasvepstas at gmail.com<mailto:linasvepstas at gmail.com>" <linasvepstas at gmail.com<mailto:linasvepstas at gmail.com>>, User discussions <ros-users at lists.ros.org<mailto:ros-users at lists.ros.org>>
Date: Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 02:08
To: Aaron Schiffman <aarondsc at yahoo.com<mailto:aarondsc at yahoo.com>>, User discussions <ros-users at lists.ros.org<mailto:ros-users at lists.ros.org>>
Subject: Re: [ros-users] ROS 2.0 Strategy review

Hi Aaron,

Can you clarify? Do you mean "IP of DDS", or IP of something else?  Are DDS algos patented?  There used to be talk of zero-mq-based ROS, but that seems to have disappeared from the table.

My knee-jerk reaction is to be a bit suspicious of OMG-created technologies; they sound great at first, but are often over-wrought (e.g. corba).  I'd never even heard a whisper about DDS before yesterday; I'm nervous about adopting a technology that has not yet gained any acceptance at all in the open-source community.  So, for example, whatever one's opinion of zmq might be, positive or negative, its a "known thing"; many people have used it, there is developer experience, a track record.  There's no such track record for DDS -- the proprietary world seems to be the primary consumer of the thing, and their experience with it is secret, and not shared. We don't actually know how well it works (although I admit it sounds really great, based on the wikipedia article).

Anyway: please clarify: IP of what? And who "owns" that IP, who has rights to it?

-- Linas.

On Sat, Sep 26, 2015 at 11:03 AM, Aaron Schiffman via ros-users <ros-users at lists.ros.org<mailto:ros-users at lists.ros.org>> wrote:
This doesn't feel right sharing my some of my thoughts I held back since Roscon 2014 about ROS 2.0, but here goes:
The ip ownership and patent of the underlying ROS 2.0 distributed udp protocol are of concern as a third party protocol implementor. Yes, ROS.org or OSRF may have explicit legal permission to use said protocol, but it is not truly an open/free platform when the public is at the mercy of the IP owner, unless the entire platform is contractually opened up and made free.

As a ROS protocol implementor Ive personally held off on implementing ROS 2.0 protocols, while waiting to see how it pans out. I am still of the belief that the UDPROS protocol with enhancements can do everything the new protocol can do, but better. That really doesn't matter now though.

I appreciate that osrf took the focus from protocols and put their limited resources to work on tools. In an r&d organization that would be the path I would expect to be the most rewarding, except that I've grown to appreciate think of ROS as a rock that the open robotics universe revolves around. Like I think of Linux, as an open operating system, except that ROS is more an open set of design frameworks like tcpip is a standard protocol with many implementors.

Wish I could be there in Hamburg with you all! The birds of a feather meetings, and the couple hours socializing with drinks were the most influential on my development direction this past year. Watching roscon on YouTube just will not be the same.

I am so stoked about this upcoming year in Robotics I can hardly contain myself (probably a good reason for me to not be there in October:)

God bless Roscon 2015 in Hamburg!


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