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rosbridge: Towards a World Wide Web for Robotics

Dr. Chad Jenkins

Monday, September 22, 2014, 12:00pm - 07:00pm

Brown University, Department of Computer Science

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Our work aims to make robots a seamless technology that people can easily use and program for a wide variety of purposes.  We posit that the convergence of robotics with Internet and Web technologies will lead to a thriving robotics ecosystem with greater levels of reproducibility, interoperability, and accessibility.  Building on the World Wide Web analogy, broader populations of users and applications developers will be able to use and create "apps" that address various needs across society, while building on continuing advances in robotics research and development.
Currently, other than online videos, the impact of the great achievements and capabilities in robotics remains relatively limited to robotics research labs. Robotics has made great strides in producing a variety of capable and affordable off-the-shelf platforms comprised of physically capable hardware, richer perception of unstructured environments, and general purpose robot middleware. However, these robots lack a common and general format for exchanging information that both limits interoperability between systems and accessibility of interfaces for developing applications for broader
human use.
In this talk, I will cover our recent developments with rosbridge as a lightweight applications-layer protocol for robotics, which has enabled in-browser robot programming in JavaScript/HTML5. Assuming only the JSON data-interchange format and network sockets, rosbridge was originally intended to enable any network process (independent of any specific operating system or build environment) to access, share topic messages with, and call services provided by a Robot Operating System (ROS) run-time environment.  I will discuss the beginnings of rosbridge from our work in robot learning from demonstration through multivalued statistical regression, our attempts to crowdsource our research, and how this crowdsourcing brought my group to the nascent area of web/cloud robotics.  This talk will highlight a few "robot web apps" that have contributed compelling new forms of human-robot interaction by building on rosbridge, most notably for physically disabled users.

Dr. Chad Jenkins