Robots Robots Ra Ra Ra!!! (PyCon 2015 Must-See Talk: 6/6)

Part six of six in our PyCon 2015 Must-See Series, a weekly highlight of talks our staff enjoyed at PyCon.

I've had an interest in robotics since high school, but always thought it would be expensive and time consuming to actually do. Over the past few years, though, I've observed the rise of open hardware such as the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi, and modules and kits built on top of them, that make this type of project more affordable and accessible to the casual hobbyist. I was excited by Katherine's talk because Robot Operating System (ROS) seems to do for the software side what Arduino and such do for the hardware side.

ROS is a framework that can be used to control a wide range of robots and hardware. It abstracts away the hard work, allowing for a publish-subscribe method of communicating with your robot's subsystems. A plus side is that you can use higher-level programming languages such as Python or Lisp, not just C and C++, and there is an active and vibrant open source community built up around it already. Katherine did multiple demonstrations with a robot arm that she'd brought to the talk, that did much with a relatively small amount of easily understandable code. She showed that it was even easy to hook in OpenCV and do such things as finding a red bottle cap in the robot's field of vision.

More in the PyCon 2015 Must-See Talks Series.

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