The State of Robotics – October 2020


This post marks the one year anniversary of the Ubuntu Robotics newsletter. We knew adding the year on the end of each title was a good idea! One full year where the Ubuntu Robotics team have been documenting their work, showcasing projects in ROS and discussing interesting things going on in the community.  And my, what a year it has been. To mark the occasion, we’d love to hear and write about any work you’ve done in robotics or ROS over the last year.  Send a summary of your work to, and we’ll feature it in next month’s blog. Anyway, enough of the preamble, on to some news.

See you at ROS World 2020

Come and connect with us at ROSWorld on November 12th! We’ll be around to answer all of your questions. This is the first time ROSCon has ever been virtual so it’s a bit new to us and we want to hear about your robot projects! We have something called a “virtual booth” that you can “visit” and if we’re not there, you’ll find someone stationed on the booth that knows where we’re hanging out. Come along, connect, ask all your questions and find out how Ubuntu can support your robot. And while you’re at it, grab a ROS T-shirt – we’re on the back!

Is your ROS 1 robot accessible from the Internet?

Ever wonder why we recommend keeping ROS 1 behind a firewall, or configuring it to listen only on loopback? Wonder no more. A team at Brown University published a blog post, video, and a link to their ICRA paper about scanning the internet for ROS robots using ZMap, and there were lots. And they could take over any one of them, remotely. That’s why we’re working with the ROS 2 Security Working Group to protect your robots by easily enabling encryption and authorization. Soon this will all be fixed with ROS 2!

Micro XRCE-DDS agent as a snap

eProsima, the company that brings you Fast-DDS and micro-ROS, announced that the micro XRCE-DDS agent is available as a snap. Installing it, running it, and creating a flashable image using it is now incredibly easy! See it along with installation instructions on the snap store.

Tesseract setup wizard uses Ignition

Tesseract is a powerful and popular motion planning framework created and maintained by the ROS-Industrial Consortium. If you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s a helpful talk given at ROSCon a few years ago. The Consortium recently announced that they have adopted Ignition Robotics as the visualization toolset for the framework. That might prove to be an interesting choice if you’re familiar with ROS: why not utilize RViz? The use of Qt Quick in Ignition was one of the deciding factors (it makes for a more user-friendly interface, among other things), as well as Ignition’s use of Ogre2, OptiX, and direct access to the physics engine.

The announcement details how to use the Tesseract Setup Wizard, the first visualization tool developed for Tesseract. It’s available on the snap store, give it a try!

Turtlesim: it’s not just fun and games

Well, maybe it is. If you’ve ever worked through the ROS tutorials, surely you’ve installed turtlesim and probably quickly discarded it in favor of more complex simulations. However, check out this series of courses at the Robocademy to get some cool ideas of things to do with turtlesim: draw a picture, play classic pong, all while learning about ROS. The courses are based on fun stuff you can do and games you can play using turtlesim!


It’s been a great month, expect even more next month as we start heading into the holiday season! Don’t forget to send your robot chatter to, and we hope to see you at ROS World 2020!