Key considerations when choosing a robot's operating system

A real robotic revolution is beginning to emerge.

August 2018

Converging with the growth of artificial intelligence and machine learning, robots are being adopted in every sector imaginable, including consumer, industrial, healthcare, and retail. According to IDC, worldwide robotic spending, encompassing hardware, software and related services, is set to reach US$230.7bn by 2021.

Due to the sizeable market potential, demand, and evolution of technology, companies are seizing the opportunity to build robots. However as with many other initiatives in the wider Internet of Things (IoT) industry, there are key decisions that robotic manufacturers need to make from the development stage onwards to ensure they are building a sustainable, future-proof, and secure robot.

One of the most important decisions to be made is that of the robot's operating system. Unfortunately, this importance is not always obvious until the company is too invested to change it, which can lead to a slew of delays or issues to overcome. The operating system that's perfect for hacking things together may be impossible to maintain once the robot reaches production.

Similarly, the build-your-own option means maintaining the entire operating system (backporting upstream security updates, etc.) for the lifetime of the robot. The rock-solid, stable option may end up having versions of dependencies that are too old to use. That snazzy new one created by a niche startup that seems to tick all the boxes is less appealing if they suddenly go out of business.