To ensure the development of a long-lasting, future-proof, and secure robot, every manufacturer must get the most important decision right, namely the operating system of the robot.
The robot operating system includes libraries and tools to help software developers create robot applications. There are device drivers, libraries, visualizers, message passing, package management, and other features. Hardware abstraction is also included.
Unfortunately, this importance is not always obvious until the company is too invested in changing it, leading to a slew of delays or issues to overcome. The operating system perfect for hacking things together may be impossible to maintain once the robot reaches production.
Similarly, the build-your-own option means maintaining the entire operating system for the robot’s lifetime. The rock-solid, stable option may have versions of dependencies that are too old to use.
This article will discuss several key considerations for choosing the best operating system for a robot.
Software Stack Compatibility
Choosing an operating system that is incompatible with the required technology is a recipe for disaster (libraries, frameworks, etc.). Algorithm implementation and testing are simplified by their compatibility with programmes such as ROS and OpenCV. This can also help the engineering team streamline the robot’s development and get it to market faster than competitors.
Similar to software compatibility, hardware compatibility should also be a top priority because it will take a lot of time to get all the parts to work together before the robot can move forward. For instance, working with vendors with little experience with Linux or finding hardware that only supports drivers created for a few Linux distributions is commonplace.
Ease Of System Integration
Robots are rarely stand-alone devices; instead, they frequently need to communicate with other devices. Even if the other device is as simple as a digital twin for hardware-in-the-loop testing, off-device computation is becoming more popular in robotics. Cloud robotics, speech recognition, and machine learning can all benefit from data processing on a server farm rather than a robot with limited resources. If possible, use the same operating system on the robot and in the cloud. It ensures that processes are consistent and that domain knowledge is not divided, reducing the time required to develop both the client and server components.
Solving problems is one of engineering’s many rewards. Every engineer, however, reaches a point where they require assistance. They frequently turn to the community surrounding that distribution, where others are having similar problems, for assistance if they need it with the operating system. As a result, community support is crucial when selecting an operating system.
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