Robotics is fun. Or is it?

Find out why robot development can be challenging.

January 16, 2023


Aleksandra Szczepaniak

Orbbec Persee camera

They say robotics is easy but trust us – it’s not. We have already gone through it, so we would like to shed some light on this complex topic. Read on to find out what difficulties you may bump into on your way to robot development.

Know the basics

Naturally, anyone can become an owner of a mobile robot and use it for particular purposes. So, if you want to get your hands on a Leo Rover, you’re more than welcome to do that. But developing the robot and expanding its possibilities is a whole ‘nother story. And this is where it gets more complicated. Although available to anybody, Leo Rover robotic platform aims, in particular, at people who will develop it. To be able to do that, you need to know the basics, which are Linux and ROS.

Linux is the best known and most commonly used open-source operating system. There are many similarities between Linux and other operating systems such as Windows, macOS, or iOS. But at the same time, there are a lot of differences as well. First of all, Linux is open-source software. The code used for the system’s creation is free and available to the public for viewing, editing, and, in the case of appropriately skilled users – for contributing. Linux also differs from other operating systems in that although its core components are generally common, there are many Linux distributions that contain a variety of software options. This makes Linux extremely customizable.

ROS, which stands for Robot Operating System, is an open-source framework that helps you create and reuse code between robot applications. ROS is also a global community of developers, engineers, and hobbyists who help make robots better and more available to anyone.

Basic knowledge about these two aspects is enough for you to start your adventure with rovers, develop them, and have a grasp of what’s going on in your robot. You don’t have to be an expert in this field because you implement something that actual experts built.

Keep expanding your knowledge

As you work on a robot and develop it, your knowledge is constantly expanding. So, with time, you’ll be able to understand and do more with your robot. And regarding ROS, what’s cool about it is that, as mentioned, apart from being a set of software libraries and tools, it’s also a community that brings together software developers. In this community, you can create your own software packages that are integrable with the entire ROS environment or use the packages someone else created and shared with the rest of the community. You can also find numerous pieces of documentation there. Basically, ROS provides you with integrations and since you don’t have to be an expert in any of the fields of robotics or programming, you can use that knowledge which you wouldn't be able to grasp on your own. We recommend checking ROS Wiki which is where you can get all that useful stuff from.

When it comes to Linux, well, there’s the whole Internet at your disposal to broaden your knowledge ;)

You’ll be glad to know that Leo Rover is on ROS Wiki too :). There, you’ll find the robot’s documentation and several packages that we’ve created. You can build your own robot and use our software in it. 

What’s more, we have a few things integrated from ROS packages under our belt. For example, check out how we connected ARTags to Leo Rover.

Leo Rover ARTag tracking

Difficulties with robot development

During your adventure with robot development, as mentioned, you can use software packages that are available on the ROS website. But that’s where difficulties begin. You see, the thing is, these packages most likely won’t work right away. It might be that the software someone created is compatible only with a particular ROS distribution. You’ll have to work on it to adjust it to the environment you’re using. It’s nothing out of the ordinary with Linux, though. And that’s exactly the point of this system – Linux enables you to integrate things.

URDF model of Leo Rover in xacro format
URDF model of a Leo Rover in xacro format from our package on ROS Wiki

Integrating itself can be challenging. You can do a lot but it’s not always easy. Lucky for you, that’s what the whole ROS environment is for, in which people create things, but also give you support. And that brings us to the next aspect.

Support for your robot development

There are lots of forums on the Internet where you can find valuable information and get help from other users. So, throughout this adventure of developing a robot, you can count on support of experts from the field. There’s, for example, a ROS forum on which you can ask questions and, typically, the package authors will help you adjust the software to your needs. These kinds of issues can be easily overcome, because if you have difficulties with something, it’s very likely that someone else has already struggled with it too, so there’s a thread about it on the forum. If not, well, just shoot a question and ROS users will help you.

And of course, there’s always the Leo Rover team that will support you in need. We’ve been where you are now, we’ve had to deal with all those difficulties and challenges. We’ve been at it for so long now that we provide help and support. That’s why we offer several ways to be in touch with you. You can count on our help at any stage of your robot development – from building a rover to adding software.

Thrive in robotics with our help

One thing’s for sure – robot development is no walk in the park. Heck, sometimes it can give you sleepless nights. But it doesn’t have to! All you need to successfully develop your robot is some basic knowledge and you’re ready to go. And once you’re at it, your knowledge and skills will develop along with your robot. And remember – there are always people willing to help you whenever you need it. So why not contact us? :) See our channels of customer support here.

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