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Robots that run Ubuntu

James Nunns

on 13 September 2018

This article is more than 5 years old.

The home for innovators, Ubuntu is a place where developers can create what previously lived solely in the realms of fiction. The internet of things, the cloud, and robots are world changing technologies and they’re all running Ubuntu.

With an estimated worldwide spending figure of $103bn by 2020, according to IDC, the field of robotics is one of those transformative industries that is really gaining traction, and it’s not just the manufacturing industry that’s using them, robots are everywhere.

From collecting tennis balls, to social robots, agriculture and retail. Robots are making our lives easier and it turns out that a large amount of them are an Ubuntu robot.

Don’t just take my word for it though, below is a list of of just some of the cool and brilliant ways Ubuntu is being used in the field of robotics.

Robots in space

We all know that Ubuntu has a long held connection with space and space travel with NASA using a version of the OS for its Curiosity Rover on Mars, but that’s not the only example. Recently, CIMON went to space. Standing for (Crew Interactive Mobile CompaniON), CIMON is a free floating AI system that was designed by the European Space Agency to float on the International Space Station as a way of mitigate the stresses of spaceflight.

With the ability to see, hear, and speak to the astronauts, CIMON was launched into space earlier this year.

The robot was developed by Airbus in cooperation with IBM, with Ubuntu acting as the operating system and the majority of the AI work being carried out by IBM Watson.

On the tennis court

Back down on earth, this Ubuntu robot is being put to use as the world’s first robotic tennis ball collector. Removing the time consuming task of collecting all the tennis balls and freeing up time for coaches and players to focus on hitting the balls, not picking them up.

Created by a US-based design team, Tennibot uses computer vision and artificial intelligence to detect tennis balls on the court and collect them. For this deployment, it was Ubuntu’s potential for customisation and the ease of integration with embedded hardware that helped to make it the perfect choice.

To learn more about Tennibot and how it uses Ubuntu, hear from the Tennibot CEO on creating the world’s first robotic ball collector.

Disaster relief

Method-2, created by Hankook Mirae Technology in South Korea, is probably going to fill some of you with a sense of impending doom, others with excitement about its potential use cases.

The machine is capable of walking like a human, moving its arms, hands and fingers all under the control of a person in the cockpit. The walking is controlled by engineers.

Ok, so we aren’t a 100% certain that this robot is running Ubuntu, but we can see that it’s being used to monitor, debug and process the robot as it walks, thanks to this video from Ruptly.

The hope for the robot is for it to be used to access extremely dangerous and hazardous areas, where humans can’t go without protection.

More information can be found here and here with test pilot.

Social robots

Time now for something that feels a little less like the start of a Terminator film, with BotsAndUs.

This UK-based startup is looking to capitalise on the growing robotics market with the creation of Bo. Bo is primarily aimed for use in the hospitality and retail industries and has already been used by large brands such as BT and Etisalat.

With artificial intelligence capabilities for advanced face to face interaction, and a combination of hardware and software, including a RealSense Depth camera system and ROS that needs to be seamlessly integrated, the creation of Bo was no simple task, and required a widely supported and versatile OS for the job.

That’s why Bo’s creators BotsAndUs ended up creating an Ubuntu robot.

To find out more about Bo and how it uses Ubuntu, we have this handy case study.


This agri-tech startup is working to change the face of farming, replacing big tractors with smaller, more environmentally friendly robots that are lighter, more agile, and don’t damage the soil.
The British startup offers a Farming as a Service (FaaS) model, where the robot is able to use AI to digitise the field and then carry out more precision farming than traditional methods, and guess what? It runs Ubuntu as its OS.

According to the company’s site: “We are building robots that will seed and care for each individual plant in your crop. They will only feed and spray the plants that need it, giving them the perfect levels nutrients and support, with no waste.”

You can find more information on the agric-tech startup here.

Ubuntu everywhere!

What’s clear to see is that Ubuntu is everywhere when it comes to robotics. The use cases are as diverse as the robotics industry is, highlighting Ubuntu’s reputation as the best tool for the innovators to use.

If you’re considering building a robot, check out our key considerations when choosing a robotic operating system in our new whitepaper.

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