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  1. 1. Free Robotics Paul Fitzpatrick
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>The iCub: a Free Robot that costs € 200,000
  3. 3. Freedom Defined: the OSHW definition
  4. 4. How does the iCub stack up?
  5. 5. Other open hardware projects </li><ul><li>Arduino, RepRap, Global Village Construction Set </li></ul><li>Patents and copyright
  6. 6. How roboticists and OSHW can help each other </li></ul>Talk is personal opinion, not that of IIT or Robot Rebuilt
  7. 7. iCub
  8. 8. About the iCub <ul><li>Scale: 4-year old infant
  9. 9. 53 degrees of freedom (7 per arm, 9 per hand, 6 in head, 3 in torso, 6 per leg)
  10. 10. Off-board power, computation; on-board PC104 card, micro-controllers
  11. 11. Tendon driven joints for shoulder, hand
  12. 12. Stereo cameras, microphones, force/torque sensors, gyros
  13. 13. V1.2: sensorized fingertips, palms (108 taxels) </li></ul>
  14. 14. iCubs
  15. 15. Free? <ul><li>You can get one built </li><ul><li>€ 200,000 (plus customs etc)
  16. 16. 21-23 iCubs built so far </li></ul><li>Free software </li><ul><li>Publicly archived; OSI-approved license (LGPL) </li></ul><li>Free hardware designs </li><ul><li>Publicly archived; OSI-approved license (GPL) </li><ul><li>License approved for software, not hardware
  17. 17. Lots of discussions going on about how to build good free licenses for hardware </li></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Why freedom helps <ul><li>Full-body humanoids are hugely complicated and expensive to develop
  19. 19. An open process is an enormous simplifier </li><ul><li>Secrecy is lossy
  20. 20. Hard to do across loosely collaborating institutions
  21. 21. Secrecy is complicated, bureaucratic
  22. 22. Secrecy is costly </li></ul><li>For loose collaborations across space and time, an open process wins hands-down
  23. 23. Free licenses useful for setting trusted ground rules </li></ul>
  24. 24. Hardware vs software <ul><li>Good, well-understood free licenses exist for software </li><ul><li>Copyright based </li></ul><li>The same is not true for hardware </li><ul><li>Often people borrow software or media licenses
  25. 25. But law related to hardware is very different </li><ul><li>e.g. regulated by patents, not copyright
  26. 26. Different types of hardware have different legal issues </li></ul></ul><li>A lot of thinking about this happening right now </li><ul><li>e.g. TAPR Open Hardware License </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. OSHW definition <ul><li>Open Source Hardware Statement of Principles and Definition is under development by community </li><ul><li> </li></ul><li>Not a license. A standard by which to evaluate licenses.
  28. 28. Modeled after the Debian Free Software Guidelines.
  29. 29. New, still being hammered out (v1.0 was released Feb. 2011)
  30. 30. “ Open Source Hardware (OSHW) is: </li><ul><li>a term for tangible artifacts – machines, devices, or other physical things –
  31. 31. whose design has been released to the public in such a way that anyone can make, modify, distribute, and use those things.” </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. OSHW terms (v1.0) <ul><li>Documentation </li><ul><li>Design files must be released
  33. 33. In preferred format for making changes, e.g. original CAD </li></ul><li>Scope </li><ul><li>Must be clear what portion of design is covered by license </li></ul><li>Necessary software </li><ul><li>Any software required for operation must be released under OSI-approved license, or specified well for implementation by others </li></ul><li>Derived works </li><ul><li>Allow: manufacture, sale, distribution under same license, use, modification of designs and products built from them, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. OSHW terms (v1.0) <ul><li>Free redistribution </li><ul><li>No restriction or royalty or fee for selling or giving away the designs or modified versions of designs </li></ul><li>Attribution </li><ul><li>May be required; change in branding for modified versions may be required </li></ul><li>No discrimination </li><ul><li>Against persons or groups
  35. 35. Against fields of endeavor </li></ul></ul>
  36. 36. OSHW terms (v1.0) <ul><li>Distribution of license </li><ul><li>Rights granted are automatically extended to recipient when the work is redistributed </li></ul><li>Not specific to product </li><ul><li>Individual parts of a design can be used and distributed without grief </li></ul><li>No restriction on other hardware or software </li><ul><li>e.g. can't insist hardware be used only with free software </li></ul><li>Technology neutral </li></ul>
  37. 37. So is the iCub free? <ul><li>Yes! Maybe! </li><ul><li>GPL-licensed, and GPL meets spirit of OSHW...
  38. 38. … depending on how you read it. Needs a rewrite for hardware (TAPR, Hardware Design Public License v0.04) </li></ul><li>A bit like free software a decade ago </li><ul><li>Good faith effort: have CAD files, layouts, BOM, wiki, making-of videos, …
  39. 39. More importantly, public repository is used internally
  40. 40. But it takes a lot of documentation to build a humanoid!
  41. 41. But is everything there? Probably not. And it is messy. Needs pressure from 3rd-party implementors </li></ul><li>Also: v1.2 has a patent application on tactile skin </li></ul>
  42. 42. Benefits? <ul><li>Better institutional memory </li><ul><li>Information made public is archived, duplicated, indexed by search engines
  43. 43. Secrets are expensive, and get lost
  44. 44. Clearly better for the next grad student or contractor that shows up </li></ul><li>Confidence booster for users </li><ul><li>Can't be canceled like Aibo+Qrio
  45. 45. Collaborators vs consumers </li></ul><li>Defensive publication </li></ul>
  46. 46. Potential costs? <ul><li>Missed revenue </li><ul><li>Others can scoop up and exploit work
  47. 47. Copyright-based license can be worked around </li></ul><li>Mistakes are public </li><ul><li>Published material needs vigilance to keep third-party, non-free material out
  48. 48. iCub developers may get away with mistakes a juicier target might not </li></ul></ul>
  49. 49. PR2 Willow Garage
  50. 50. Free Software, Closed Hardware <ul><li>$400,000 ($280,000 with open-source-contributor discount)
  51. 51. Free, open-source software = ROS etc
  52. 52. Hardware is not open </li><ul><li>(Many bloggers are confused about this)
  53. 53. “ Modularity” specification not open </li><ul><li>No sharing information off-premises, full license requires signature and approving counter-signature from Willow. </li></ul><li>CAD, BOM etc. not freely available </li></ul></ul>
  54. 54. Arduino Smart Projects, Italy
  55. 55. Arduino <ul><li>$30 microcontroller board
  56. 56. Technically not novel </li><ul><li>But very easy to use by non-engineers, great doc, videos
  57. 57. Everything that can be free and open, is (but name reserved)
  58. 58. Reference design license: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.5 </li></ul><li>Massively popular
  59. 59. Lots of copies, derivatives
  60. 60. Copyright-based licensing is being respected, emulated </li></ul>
  61. 61. Beagleboard Texas Instruments Digi-Key
  62. 62. RepRap
  63. 63. RepRap <ul><li>Home-brew 3D printer
  64. 64. GPL license
  65. 65. Self-replication goal </li><ul><li>Status: “Mendel” version makes 50% of own parts (not counting fasteners) </li></ul><li>Still needs plenty of “vitamins” (parts not made by RepRap) </li></ul>
  66. 66. RepRap family <ul><li>Makerbot and other companies sell 3D printers (or printer kits) based on RepRap
  67. 67. $1300 for thing-o-matic kit
  68. 68. GPL'd </li><ul><li>Copyright-based licensing of RepRap is being respected, emulated </li></ul><li>Thingiverse community for sharing designs
  69. 69. Sometimes used for prototyping before sending to service e.g. Shapeways to build part in desired material </li></ul>
  70. 70. Global Village Construction Set
  71. 71. CEB Press <ul><li>Building material from compressed earth
  72. 72. Buy: $8000. Designs: Creative Commons by-sa-3.0 </li></ul>
  73. 73. Arduino inside
  74. 74. RepRap inside (plans)
  75. 75. Colliding on thingiverse e.g. thing:7291
  76. 76. Signs of a toolchain... <ul><li>But is it on a firm foundation? </li></ul>
  77. 77. OSHW caveat <ul><li>“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. ” </li></ul>
  78. 78. Stallman on hardware <ul><li>Stallman = head of Free Software Foundation
  79. 79. Doesn't see need for “Free Hardware”, since copying hardware is expensive (1999 article) </li><ul><li>[my interpretation] The opportunity cost (to society) of prohibiting cheap things is high. The opportunity cost of prohibiting expensive things is low. </li></ul><li>Flags problem with patents </li><ul><li>Expensive to obtain (copyright is free)
  80. 80. Work differently to copyrights, different legal world
  81. 81. “Copyleft” hack has no clear equivalent </li></ul></ul>
  82. 82. Patents <ul><li>The original “open-source” </li><ul><li>Document your invention thoroughly </li><ul><li>How does Kinect work? Read PrimeSense's patent </li></ul><li>In return, get a monopoly on it </li><ul><li>Duration: generally 20 years
  83. 83. Idea: promise of this reward motivates inventors </li></ul></ul><li>Pre-expiration, patent limits others </li><ul><li>Increases costs, complexity </li></ul><li>Post-expiration, patent helps others </li><ul><li>Well-documented invention in the public domain </li></ul></ul>
  84. 84. Patents + OSHW <ul><li>Recent patents can inhibit OSHW
  85. 85. Expired patents can stimulate OSHW
  86. 86. Patents and OSHW could co-exist </li><ul><li>Closed components within open hardware is normal
  87. 87. Just another type of “vitamin” </li><ul><li>Vitamin = part that can't be made in free toolchain
  88. 88. For whatever reason, technological or legal </li></ul></ul></ul>
  89. 89. tactile triangles IIT / University of Genova
  90. 90. iCub tactile triangles <ul><li>Patent pending on iCub component </li><ul><li>“tactile triangle” invention patented
  91. 91. “tactile triangle” design doc available under GPL </li></ul><li>What does this mean? </li><ul><li>Giorgio Metta's thoughts: </li><ul><li>“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)”
  92. 92. “... a specific instantiation (e.g. the PCB design and corresponding software) can still be under GPL without affecting the patent.”
  93. 93. Not sure about whether this actually will work out </li></ul></ul></ul>“Father of iCub” One of patent holders
  94. 94. Dual-licensing <ul><li>A classic Free Software business model. Goes like this: </li><ul><li>Company A offers software freely under GPL or similar
  95. 95. Happy community of users develop, software becomes well known
  96. 96. Company B uses software in a product
  97. 97. Company B wants to ship product without offering source code...
  98. 98. Need to pay Company A for a license that allows that </li></ul><li>With patent, hardware version of this business may be possible
  99. 99. Without patent, Company B could just redraft designs and work around copyright </li></ul>
  100. 100. Work in progress <ul><li>How to do this right is not clear
  101. 101. Borrowing software licenses is a hack
  102. 102. There's a whole bunch of law applying to different kinds of hardware </li><ul><li>Lots of nuances
  103. 103. Country-by-country issues </li></ul><li>Not much precedent yet </li><ul><li>(although open hardware goes way back, before software) </li></ul></ul>
  104. 104. Adafruit talk at: foo camp east 2010
  105. 105. Reducing price of free hardware <ul><li>Need better compilers </li><ul><li>Need better, cheaper robots for assembly tasks
  106. 106. Need to rebuild robots and tools of all sorts for “buildability” </li><ul><li>(Yes, this is circular – that's what makes it fun to do) </li></ul></ul><li>Need cheaper software </li><ul><li>Expensive, proprietary software dominates much of design toolchain (like early software days)
  107. 107. Need folks with hardware+software skills (e.g. roboticists) to liberate the toolchain </li></ul></ul>
  108. 108. Benefits for robotics researchers <ul><li>Lots of talk about standard robot platforms for research </li><ul><li>Ok for some areas, e.g. navigation
  109. 109. But maybe premature for others, e.g. manipulation </li></ul><li>Need to compress the time and cost for creating new hardware into a shorter part of a grad student's life-cycle </li><ul><li>If the work of this generation of students is liberated, it benefits the next generation in ways you cannot anticipate </li></ul></ul>
  110. 110. Plus: summer school in Italy “ VVV11”