It’s been a while since ROSCon 2018, but I thought I’d (finally) write some thoughts down. Hopefully without too much rambling.
I’ve been around ROS for a little while now. At first it was from a distance. I only knew the basic concepts, but I still had to work around it. However, a couple years ago I slowly got more and more interested and actually started using it. I thought it was a very powerful concept, and its community and open-sourceness really made me want to contribute.
I had never been to a tech conference (by myself or for myself), and I didn’t really know what to expect – I didn’t know exactly what I wanted from it.
However, my one objective was to talk to other attendees and learn something from them. Sure, I’m still a student and don’t have as much experience as them, but I still have something to offer.
One thing I was sure of is that I’d learn a lot from the presentations. I was really looking forward to the presentations on ROS 2, since I hadn’t really tried or read a lot about it. ROS 1 is still way more mature, but as companies are slowly starting to move to ROS 2, especially for new products or applications, this is the best moment to get started!
The presentations were very interesting! For the topics I was familiar with, I was eager to see what other people were doing. For the others, I was simply curious. Here’s a few highlights:
“Lessons learned building a self-driving car on ROS” and “ROS 2 on Autonomous Driving Vehicles,” which were interesting applications of ROS to self-driving. They also mentioned real problems, like determinism and real time.
“Integrating ROS and ROS2 on mixed-critical robotic systems based on embedded heterogeneous platforms” and “Towards ROS 2 microcontroller meta cross-compilation,” which showed that plans are for ROS 2 to be used for much more than what ROS 1 was generally used for, which is of course very exciting.
performance_testpackage for testing middleware peformance for ROS 2, from Apex.AI. Since I’m interested in the tooling side of robotics software development (e.g. tracing & analysis), this was quite a nice surprise!
and other cool presentations, such as “Deterministic reversible debugging of ROS nodes with Mozilla rr,” “Hermetic Robot Deployment Using Multi-Stage Dockers,” and “Deterministic, asynchronous message driven task execution with ROS.”
Between presentations and during the lunches, I talked with other attendees, including both people from academia and the industry!
The biggest event of the conference was obviously the evening reception on the first day
because of the beer. I motivated myself to go talk to people, and that led me to have some nice conversations and meet some very interesting people. I learned about a couple projects that I then started to follow, like the Open Vision Computer.
What I learned
Looking back, it was a great experience and I learned a lot, and not only from a technical point of view.
I learned that you always have something to offer, whether it’s a different point of view, a different background, or simply the cool stuff you’ve done. No matter how little experience you think you (might) have. For example, people I talked to had never heard of the aerials robotics competition I spent 3-4 years competing in, which involved real challenges that I was able to discuss! Even if it wasn’t in a strictly-professional setting, those challenges are still similar to the ones people in the industry can face. In this case, I mentioned that I worked on autonomous obstacle avoidance in a sterile environment, without external position sensors.
Overall, it was a very nice experience. It made me look forward to the future.
It made me want to get involved in ROS development. I have made (very) small contributions to ROS 1 since then, and I look forward to doing more, especially for ROS 2! Now I’m really hoping I can attend ROSCon 2019 in Macau!
All in all, you can’t learn anything if you never try, so jump in!