The Open 3D Foundation (O3DF) community is thrilled to join ROSCon 2023, a global event that unites developers of the Robot Operating System (ROS). In this blog, we’ll explore the immense benefits that the Open 3D Engine (O3DE) brings to ROS developers.
Initially forged from a mission to create the Linux of robots, the Robot Operating System (ROS) has become arguably the most important standard in robotics today, used by over 740 companies, including NASA’s VIPER mission to the moon. And ROSCon, now in its twelfth year, has become the nexus of its community—a global, diverse event that welcomes ROS developers of all levels for a rich, two-day program of valuable insights and enduring connections to shape the future of robotics.
The O3DF community is excited to be a part of ROSCon 2023, and together with members AWS and Robotec.ai, we have some incredible activities lined up. From live demos in the O3DE and Robotec.ai booths, to a session titled Simulate Robots Like Never Before with Open 3D Engine, on October 20 at 2:10 pm CST, delivered by Robotec.ai’s VP of Robotics and Simulations Adam Dąbrowski, we can’t wait to see you there!
As ROSCon approaches, let’s delve into why O3DE is an excellent choice for robotics development and simulations, especially for those in the ROS community.
Game engine technologies have transcended their origins in traditional game development as versatile tools, wielded across a multitude of industries and applications, including robotics. O3DE’s real-time rendering capabilities and advanced physics system make it a choice tool for robotics developers, with the ability to render detailed, realistic environments, and simulate lifelike robotic behavior and interactions.
Performance—the ability to run robotic simulations quickly, particularly in real time—is important in simulating large environments, a multitude of robots, or sensors that produce massive amounts of data. O3DE scales considerably well to support real-time robotic simulations.
As noted in a recent panel discussion among robotics experts, it is essential for developers to choose the best tool for the job based on their specific use cases. These developers can adapt O3DE for a broad range of use cases owing to its unique, modular architecture. The O3DE ROS2 Gem integrates O3DE with the Robot Operating System (ROS). Far more than typical wrappers, with a few tutorials and examples, the ROS2 Gem contains a number of components to build robotic simulations, such as sensors, controllers of different types of drives for mobile robots and joint systems, manipulator arms, dynamic spawning of robots, and plenty of utilities and tooling. In addition, the O3DE RGL Gem powers high-performance Lidar simulation. “With O3DE, you have the modularity and configurability to select exactly what you need … where you can enable and disable different aspects of the simulator for your use case,” said Gleim.
Robotics developers have significantly diverse feature set requirements and implementation trade-offs. O3DE’s deep integration with ROS enables them to address these varied requirements while streamlining development. According to Adam Dąbrowski, VP of Robotics and Simulations at Robotec.ai, “O3DE has what I consider to be the best kind of ROS integration, in the sense that we write ROS2 code in the simulator. So, we can use all the packages directly without any bridges, which impacts performance and enables us to communicate directly to the ROS ecosystem and record data efficiently.”
Open source engines are typically free to use, significantly reducing project and development costs, offering more flexible allocation of resources, and enabling investments in other critical aspects of robotics development. This financial freedom fosters innovation and accelerates progress in the field of robotics. O3DE, freely available on GitHub, is especially attractive for those who want to commercialize their robotics projects without restrictive licensing fees.
Game engines provide powerful tools for creating 3D environments and simulations, allowing for quick, lifelike prototyping of robotic systems. “It was very good to prototype a robotic simulation quickly with O3DE and ROS2, and we were even surprised at how little effort it took to produce something beautiful that tells a story. To ramp up and build something on it took us just one week. Of course, we are quite experienced doing that. But I think in terms of what we accomplished in just one week, it was pretty impressive,” said Dąbrowski.
An Active Community
Regular updates and contributions from the community ensure that open source engines stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends. Leveraging open source engines encourages collaboration with the wider robotics ecosystem, fostering innovation and knowledge sharing. O3DE is supported by an active, ever-expanding community of over 20 companies and more than 3,000 developers, artists and content creators who shape its future and provide timely, robust support to its users.
Documentation is a cornerstone of open source projects. It empowers contributors, enhances user experience, promotes transparency, and ensures the long-term success and sustainability of the project. The O3DE community maintains robust documentation, including user and developer guides, samples, demos, tutorials and training. You can learn more about the O3DE ROS2 Gem and see it in action in these demos: fruit-picking robots simulation and robot vacuum simulation, ramp your knowledge about the O3DE RGL Gem, and check out project templates for creating a simpler interior scene with a ROSBot XL robot and a photorealistic warehouse with a Proteus robot. Guided by a philosophy that documentation can always be improved and expanded, our library is continually growing.
The O3DE community is counting down the days to ROSCon, a celebration of innovation and collaboration in the world of robotics, and we’re eager to contribute and connect with fellow developers and enthusiasts.