At the IHMC Robot Lab, we believe in providing open access to resources and knowledge that we have developed to our fellow researchers, scientists, engineers, and hobbyists in an effort to advance the field of robotics. It is in this spirit that we are excited to announce that beginning today we will be undertaking a massive and ongoing software development effort to provide access to many of our software tools and control algorithms under open source licenses.
This will be a large undertaking; at last review our codebase is comprised of more than 1.2 million lines of Java source code built up from well over a decade of research and engineering effort. Cleaning up and preparing this codebase for public consumption will be no small feat, so we don’t plan to release everything all at once. We’ve already produced our first small stand-alone open source library, the library we use for soft real-time computation using Java on Linux called IHMCRealtime, which you can find at our organizational BitBucket page at https://bitbucket.org/ihmcrobotics. The next target for open sourcing will be providing access to our cross-platform, in-house simulation library known as Simulation Construction Set (SCS), which we use to develop, simulate, and analyze our control engineering efforts for all of our robots. We plan on having our first open-source “alpha” release of SCS available to the public at the end of Fall 2014, with a developer interface in place to allow for the simulation of homegrown control algorithms. As time goes on we will also be providing open source access to a variety of other development tools.
We will also be open sourcing the software developed as a result of our walking and controls research, including the software we use to power the Boston Dynamics Atlas robot for the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC). It is our hope for the future that by providing an easy to use SDK for interfacing with legged robots, we will make it easy for anybody that would normally avoid these platforms due to the complexity of walking and balance to bring their insights and expertise to our field with a much lower barrier to entry.
We’re excited to be undertaking this effort, and if you wish to follow our progress you can follow our lab blog at http://robots.ihmc.us/blog, our BitBucket account at https://bitbucket.org/ihmcrobotics, and our lab’s Twitter account @IHMCRobotics.