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Free Robotics
 

Free Robotics

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Talk at WPI in April, 2011 on the iCub humanoid and the role of robotics in open hardware projects

Talk at WPI in April, 2011 on the iCub humanoid and the role of robotics in open hardware projects

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    Free Robotics Free Robotics Presentation Transcript

    • Free Robotics Paul Fitzpatrick
    • Outline
      • The iCub: a Free Robot that costs € 200,000
      • Freedom Defined: the OSHW definition
      • How does the iCub stack up?
      • Other open hardware projects
        • Arduino, RepRap, Global Village Construction Set
      • Patents and copyright
      • How roboticists and OSHW can help each other
      • Talk is personal opinion, not that of IIT or Robot Rebuilt
    • iCub http://icub.org
    • About the iCub
      • Scale: 4-year old infant
      • 53 degrees of freedom (7 per arm, 9 per hand, 6 in head, 3 in torso, 6 per leg)
      • Off-board power, computation; on-board PC104 card, micro-controllers
      • Tendon driven joints for shoulder, hand
      • Stereo cameras, microphones, force/torque sensors, gyros
      • V1.2: sensorized fingertips, palms (108 taxels)
    • iCubs
    • Free?
      • You can get one built
        • € 200,000 (plus customs etc)
        • 21-23 iCubs built so far
      • Free software
        • Publicly archived; OSI-approved license (LGPL)
      • Free hardware designs
        • Publicly archived; OSI-approved license (GPL)
          • License approved for software, not hardware
          • Lots of discussions going on about how to build good free licenses for hardware
    • Why freedom helps
      • Full-body humanoids are hugely complicated and expensive to develop
      • An open process is an enormous simplifier
        • Secrecy is lossy
        • Hard to do across loosely collaborating institutions
        • Secrecy is complicated, bureaucratic
        • Secrecy is costly
      • For loose collaborations across space and time, an open process wins hands-down
      • Free licenses useful for setting trusted ground rules
    • Hardware vs software
      • Good, well-understood free licenses exist for software
        • Copyright based
      • The same is not true for hardware
        • Often people borrow software or media licenses
        • But law related to hardware is very different
          • e.g. regulated by patents, not copyright
          • Different types of hardware have different legal issues
      • A lot of thinking about this happening right now
        • e.g. TAPR Open Hardware License
    • OSHW definition
      • Open Source Hardware Statement of Principles and Definition is under development by community
        • http://freedomdefined.org/OSHW
      • Not a license. A standard by which to evaluate licenses.
      • Modeled after the Debian Free Software Guidelines.
      • New, still being hammered out (v1.0 was released Feb. 2011)
      • “ Open Source Hardware (OSHW) is:
        • a term for tangible artifacts – machines, devices, or other physical things –
        • whose design has been released to the public in such a way that anyone can make, modify, distribute, and use those things.”
    • OSHW terms (v1.0)
      • Documentation
        • Design files must be released
        • In preferred format for making changes, e.g. original CAD
      • Scope
        • Must be clear what portion of design is covered by license
      • Necessary software
        • Any software required for operation must be released under OSI-approved license, or specified well for implementation by others
      • Derived works
        • Allow: manufacture, sale, distribution under same license, use, modification of designs and products built from them, etc.
    • OSHW terms (v1.0)
      • Free redistribution
        • No restriction or royalty or fee for selling or giving away the designs or modified versions of designs
      • Attribution
        • May be required; change in branding for modified versions may be required
      • No discrimination
        • Against persons or groups
        • Against fields of endeavor
    • OSHW terms (v1.0)
      • Distribution of license
        • Rights granted are automatically extended to recipient when the work is redistributed
      • Not specific to product
        • Individual parts of a design can be used and distributed without grief
      • No restriction on other hardware or software
        • e.g. can't insist hardware be used only with free software
      • Technology neutral
    • So is the iCub free?
      • Yes! Maybe!
        • GPL-licensed, and GPL meets spirit of OSHW...
        • … depending on how you read it. Needs a rewrite for hardware (TAPR, Hardware Design Public License v0.04)
      • A bit like free software a decade ago
        • Good faith effort: have CAD files, layouts, BOM, wiki, making-of videos, …
        • More importantly, public repository is used internally
        • But it takes a lot of documentation to build a humanoid!
        • But is everything there? Probably not. And it is messy. Needs pressure from 3rd-party implementors
      • Also: v1.2 has a patent application on tactile skin
    • Benefits?
      • Better institutional memory
        • Information made public is archived, duplicated, indexed by search engines
        • Secrets are expensive, and get lost
        • Clearly better for the next grad student or contractor that shows up
      • Confidence booster for users
        • Can't be canceled like Aibo+Qrio
        • Collaborators vs consumers
      • Defensive publication
    • Potential costs?
      • Missed revenue
        • Others can scoop up and exploit work
        • Copyright-based license can be worked around
      • Mistakes are public
        • Published material needs vigilance to keep third-party, non-free material out
        • iCub developers may get away with mistakes a juicier target might not
    • PR2 Willow Garage
    • Free Software, Closed Hardware
      • $400,000 ($280,000 with open-source-contributor discount)
      • Free, open-source software = ROS etc
      • Hardware is not open
        • (Many bloggers are confused about this)
        • “ Modularity” specification not open
          • No sharing information off-premises, full license requires signature and approving counter-signature from Willow.
        • CAD, BOM etc. not freely available
    • Arduino Smart Projects, Italy
    • Arduino
      • $30 microcontroller board
      • Technically not novel
        • But very easy to use by non-engineers, great doc, videos
        • Everything that can be free and open, is (but name reserved)
        • Reference design license: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.5
      • Massively popular
      • Lots of copies, derivatives
      • Copyright-based licensing is being respected, emulated
    • Beagleboard Texas Instruments Digi-Key
    • RepRap reprap.org
    • RepRap
      • Home-brew 3D printer
      • GPL license
      • Self-replication goal
        • Status: “Mendel” version makes 50% of own parts (not counting fasteners)
      • Still needs plenty of “vitamins” (parts not made by RepRap)
    • RepRap family
      • Makerbot and other companies sell 3D printers (or printer kits) based on RepRap
      • $1300 for thing-o-matic kit
      • GPL'd
        • Copyright-based licensing of RepRap is being respected, emulated
      • Thingiverse community for sharing designs
      • Sometimes used for prototyping before sending to service e.g. Shapeways to build part in desired material
    • Global Village Construction Set
    • CEB Press
      • Building material from compressed earth
      • Buy: $8000. Designs: Creative Commons by-sa-3.0
    • Arduino inside
    • RepRap inside (plans)
    • Colliding on thingiverse e.g. thing:7291
    • Signs of a toolchain...
      • But is it on a firm foundation?
    • OSHW caveat
      • “ In promoting Open Hardware, it is important not to unintentionally deceive designers regarding the extent to which their licenses actually can control their designs. Under U.S. law, and law in many other places, copyright does not apply to electronic designs. Patents do. The result is that an Open Hardware license can in general be used to restrict the plans but probably not the manufactured devices or even restatements of the same design that are not textual copies of the original. ”
    • Stallman on hardware
      • Stallman = head of Free Software Foundation
      • Doesn't see need for “Free Hardware”, since copying hardware is expensive (1999 article)
        • [my interpretation] The opportunity cost (to society) of prohibiting cheap things is high. The opportunity cost of prohibiting expensive things is low.
      • Flags problem with patents
        • Expensive to obtain (copyright is free)
        • Work differently to copyrights, different legal world
        • “ Copyleft” hack has no clear equivalent
    • Patents
      • The original “open-source”
        • Document your invention thoroughly
          • How does Kinect work? Read PrimeSense's patent
        • In return, get a monopoly on it
          • Duration: generally 20 years
          • Idea: promise of this reward motivates inventors
      • Pre-expiration, patent limits others
        • Increases costs, complexity
      • Post-expiration, patent helps others
        • Well-documented invention in the public domain
    • Patents + OSHW
      • Recent patents can inhibit OSHW
      • Expired patents can stimulate OSHW
      • Patents and OSHW could co-exist
        • Closed components within open hardware is normal
        • Just another type of “vitamin”
          • Vitamin = part that can't be made in free toolchain
          • For whatever reason, technological or legal
    • tactile triangles IIT / University of Genova
    • iCub tactile triangles
      • Patent pending on iCub component
        • “ tactile triangle” invention patented
        • “ tactile triangle” design doc available under GPL
      • What does this mean?
        • Giorgio Metta's thoughts:
          • “ with the patent of the skin sensor placement, the idea of the triangular allocation becomes exclusively owned by IIT/Unige (which can be exploited or licensed openly)”
          • “ ... a specific instantiation (e.g. the PCB design and corresponding software) can still be under GPL without affecting the patent.”
          • Not sure about whether this actually will work out
      “ Father of iCub” One of patent holders
    • Dual-licensing
      • A classic Free Software business model. Goes like this:
        • Company A offers software freely under GPL or similar
        • Happy community of users develop, software becomes well known
        • Company B uses software in a product
        • Company B wants to ship product without offering source code...
        • Need to pay Company A for a license that allows that
      • With patent, hardware version of this business may be possible
      • Without patent, Company B could just redraft designs and work around copyright
    • Work in progress
      • How to do this right is not clear
      • Borrowing software licenses is a hack
      • There's a whole bunch of law applying to different kinds of hardware
        • Lots of nuances
        • Country-by-country issues
      • Not much precedent yet
        • (although open hardware goes way back, before software)
    • Adafruit talk at: foo camp east 2010
    • Reducing price of free hardware
      • Need better compilers
        • Need better, cheaper robots for assembly tasks
        • Need to rebuild robots and tools of all sorts for “buildability”
          • (Yes, this is circular – that's what makes it fun to do)
      • Need cheaper software
        • Expensive, proprietary software dominates much of design toolchain (like early software days)
        • Need folks with hardware+software skills (e.g. roboticists) to liberate the toolchain
    • Benefits for robotics researchers
      • Lots of talk about standard robot platforms for research
        • Ok for some areas, e.g. navigation
        • But maybe premature for others, e.g. manipulation
      • Need to compress the time and cost for creating new hardware into a shorter part of a grad student's life-cycle
        • If the work of this generation of students is liberated, it benefits the next generation in ways you cannot anticipate
    • Plus: summer school in Italy “ VVV11”