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what is ROS- Robot Operating System

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Robot Operating System (ROS) is a collection of software frameworks for robot software development, (see also Robotics middleware) providing operating system-like functionality on a heterogeneous computer cluster. ROS provides standard operating system services such as hardware abstraction, low-level device control, implementation of commonly used functionality, message-passing between processes, and package management. Running sets of ROS-based processes are represented in a graph architecture where processing takes place in nodes that may receive, post and multiplex sensor, control, state, planning, actuator and other messages. Despite the importance of reactivity and low latency in robot control, ROS, itself, is not a Realtime OS, though it is possible to integrate ROS with realtime code.
ROS currently only runs on Unix-based platforms. Software for ROS is primarily tested on Ubuntu and Mac OS X systems, though the ROS community has been contributing support for Fedora, Gentoo, Arch Linux and other Linux platforms.

What is the difference between ROS and the traditional OS?

 ROS is not a traditional operating system like Windows and Linux. ROS is like a set of libraries and tools that you can use to empower your robot.
You can install ROS on Linux, Windows and other operating system. And once you install ROS, you can run the program provided by ROS.

The Robot Operating System community

In fact, ROS is not only a set of communication tools and useful libraries. It’s also a huge and growing community.
And this point is very, very important. When using a library, framework, middleware, well anything software-related, you want to check whether the community is active, and if the development is active or not.
With ROS, you can check all the validation boxes. ROS was first created in 2007 by a company named Willow Garage.
ROS is now currently actively developed by a lot of dedicated people all over the world. Also, many companies are sponsoring some open source development related to ROS.
Working with sponsors for big open source projects is very common, and it’s often a proof that there’s a market validation, because companies are willing to pay for it. That’s a great guarantee if you’re worrying about the project being abandoned in a few months/years from now.
There is a global ROS committee, Open Robotics, that maintains the vision and decides on the global path to follow for the core development. They often provide some information about what’s going on, and they get feedback from the global community to get ideas and see what’s important for ROS users.
Every year, the ROS committee organizes a world wide event, called ROSCON. Every year the country and city changes, so you can have a chance to participate in one of those some day. During ROSCON, new key features and development progress are explained. The videos of the talks are available online. Sometimes you can find really valuable information in those presentations.
The ROS community is also very active online:
  • ROS Wiki. This is where you’ll find most of the tutorials, concept explanations, and guides for different packages. It’s a really nice website, but sometimes not complete and lacking some guidelines, so you’ll have to find more information elsewhere.
  • ROS Answers. A Q&A website, so you can ask all your technical oriented questions. There is already a good amount of answered questions that you can check. Oftentimes if you can’t find something on the Wiki you’re likely to get it here.
  • ROS Discourse. This is a forum to talk about future developments, projects using ROS, and anything related to ROS. That’s a great resource to check from time to time, so you’re sure you don’t miss anything.
  • GitHub. Most of the ROS packages are available on GitHub. Here you’ll be able to browse the code and make some contributions

Does NASA ever use the Robotic Operating System (ROS)? Why or why not?

 NASA uses ROS on many projects. The most visible program using ROS is the Robonaut aboard the ISS. [1] NASA has released a emulated
version of Robonaut and the ISS as ROS packages. [2]
If you get a tour of JSC and look over the engineers shoulders you will see rviz and other core ROS packages being used on many projects.

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