The State of Robotics – November 2020


Goodbye Thanksgiving (well, for some of us), hello Christmas! The holiday season really is the best, and it always brings interesting robotics news, which we will now distill into a quick dose of delightful and easily-digestible tidbits. As always, if you’d like to see your work showcased here, please send an email to robotics.community@canonical.com, and we’ll feature it in next month’s blog.

Indy Autonomous Challenge



I am speed.

That’s what autonomous cars must be thinking as they prepare for “the world’s first head-to-head high-speed autonomous race” at the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If you’re one of those people that watches racing for the wrecks, but feels a tad guilty that there’s an actual person inside of that machine, this event is for you! Okay that’s a bit dark, I’m sure every car will cross the finish line in (mostly) one piece.

Anyway, the event timeline includes a year of activities leading up to the final race next October. We’ll keep you updated on progress as the event unfolds throughout the year, but you can also follow on twitter at @IndyAChallenge.

Women in Robotics

Check out this year’s showcase of women in robotics! This list spans the world and covers all age groups, it’s a great catalyst for growing diversity among our robotics work force. Interested in connecting with other women who work in robotics or aspire to? Find out more at womeninrobotics.org.

What is ROS Rolling Ridly?

With the release of ROS Foxy earlier this year, the ROS 2 community introduced “Rolling Ridley”. It’s named this way because it’s a “rolling” release– what is that? The documentation says that it’s “a staging area for future stable distributions of ROS 2..” Basically, unlike traditional releases like Foxy and Noetic that have a defined support timeframe and well-defined versions of packages contained within them, a rolling release will continue to roll, as it were– there is no defined support timeframe, and versions of software on that release will continue to be updated often. You can consider it more or less the trunk of development for ROS 2 as a whole, out of which new ROS distributions are cut and stabilized before final release.

Why is this interesting for you? First of all, it gives you an easily-consumable way to see what’s coming in the next release. Second, if you maintain software as part of the ROS distro, it gives you a way to test against what’s coming in future releases of your dependencies as well as give your users an advanced preview of what you’re working on and give them the opportunity to give you feedback! Find more details in the ROS Enhancement Proposal (REP) 2002, or take it for a test drive.

Micro-ROS agent published as a snap

Following on from their recent success creating a snap of the micro XRCE-DDS agent, eProsima (the company that brings you Fast-DDS) has announced that the micro-ROS agent is now available as a snap. Installing it, running it, and creating a flashable image using it is now easier than ever! See it along with installation instructions on the snap store.

ROS 2 on Kubernetes

ROS and Kubernetes: perhaps not an easy journey, but definitely a journey worth taking. ROS 2’s launch system doesn’t support launching across multiple machines like ROS 1’s launch system. Kubernetes fills that hole pretty well. Follow the Ubuntu Robotics team’s four-part blog series to overcome hurdles and get a ROS 2 setup running in MicroK8s across multiple machines!

ROS documentary

Our colleagues at RedHat have been publishing some short documentaries about #OpenSourceStories, and the latest is a 5 part series about ROS! Get a drink and some snacks and have a pleasant dive into ROS history and how it all started.


This was a great month, but we’re looking forward to what happens in December, especially if you’re the ones doing it! Remember, if you have a project or initiative you’d like us to showcase in this monthly series, shoot us a message on robotics.canonical@canonical.com. We’ll take it from there.