Plus One Robotics – Origins and ROS-Industrial Roots

Co-founders Erik Nieves, Shaun Edwards, and Paul Hvass discuss how their collaboration to launch the ROS-Industrial open source software project led to their current collaboration – Plus One Robotics.


Erik Nieves:

When the automotive industry catches a cold, the robotics industry catches the flu. And in 2010, the automotive industry caught a whole lot more than a cold.

You know, I’m working for a major robot manufacturer, and we were really struggling and it was incumbent on my group, the technology advancement group, and our colleagues in the marketing department to go find something else for robots to-go “do”. Find another market that’s not tied to the automotive sales cycle.

I spent 18 months, sort of mapping out the robotics development horsepower in America, Canada, Mexico. I found this sort of undercurrent everybody there and all these research institutes were talking about ROS, it’s Robot Operating System and it was clear that ROS was going to have an important role to play in where robotics needed to go.

Shaun Edwards:

So I met Eric because he was going around the country trying to find the best and brightest places for robotics development but I kind of filed in the back of my mind that, you know, he was very forward-thinking. I was working at a R&D research institution and we started to hear about this thing called ROS. We were able to do things with an industrial platform that we hadn’t been able to do in the past by leveraging the power of ROS.

And I called Eric and I told him what I was going to do. He was 100% behind me from the very beginning but I fully realized that I was not the person to bring this to a broader industry or a broader audience. You know, I knew the perfect person for that. That was Paul.

Paul Hvass:

I was working in the same lab with Sean at this nonprofit research organization and so I kind of perked up when he and others in the lab started talking about ROS, the Robot Operating System. This is the new Holy Grail, and it’s open source so it was growing at a wild pace.

Every month we’d hear about new groups putting out new libraries or getting involved and he asked, “Hey Paul, you know we need to really divide and conquer on this in order to establish a community around ROS industrial”. I was like, “Wow what an amazing opportunity” and that’s basically how the ROS industrial consortium was born.

When we talked to Eric and his company, they got on board pretty quickly. In fact, their company was the first major robot company to join ROS industrial. So we were working together through the ROS industrial consortium and were able to get to know each other in that context. And as we were able to see how this advanced capability was finding different commercial applications, this little green light kind of went off in our heads and we said, “You know we should really take our own advice and go off on our own venture to apply the technology that we’re getting to know very well to some advanced applications”.