MOV.AI, which develops the Robotics Engine Platform, has announced the beta release of Flow, a visual integrated development environment (DE) designed specifically for ROS-based robot software.
The open IDE speeds and streamlines robot software development with a visual representation of ROS projects, making it easier to understand ROS projects and allow for simple and intuitive development, the company said. MOV.AI Flow also makes it easier to import assets, reduces configuration and integration work, speeds up debugging, and makes it easier to port projects across environments, and share with the community, MOV.AI said.
“Robotics is an exciting field that ignites the imagination of millions, but robot development is complex, and there are very few development tools that simplify it,” said Limor Schweitzer, founder of MOV.AI and a long-time robot enthusiast. “ROS is a great development foundation that is constantly evolving, but it was built for expert robotics researchers. We built a platform that bridges the gap between human imagination and its realization. MOV.AI Flow helps non-experts visualize the numerous different elements that make up a robot and the logic of how to build robot behavior.
“We are sharing it with the ROS community so that non-experts can use it effectively from day one to realize their ideas,” Schweitzer added. “Our vision is that high school students, robot enthusiasts in their garage, and experts will all be able to improve our lives with the help of robots.”
“MOV.AI Flow was initially developed by the MOV.AI team as a byproduct of working with ROS to develop robots and robot software. As they worked on their projects, they also built tools to make their lives easier,” said Motti Kushnir, MOV.AI CEO. “We decided not to leave it at that, but to pay it forward to the larger robotics community. We took the separate, ad hoc tools and further developed them into a full-blown visual IDE that can be used by almost anyone to develop a robot. That is what we are releasing today in the form of a source available tool.”
Flow is based on ROS and was developed with the intention of making ROS available to a wider community, the company said. The tool is completely free, and available on GitHub under a source-available license. The license allows developers to use the Flow code freely and adapt it to their needs, including developing commercial products, with minimal exclusions.
Main features of Flow in the beta include:
- A visual ROS editor with a visual representation of robot behavior, drag-and-drop editing capabilities, and support for both existing and new ROS projects;
- Built-in visual state machine and node orchestration;
- Callback editor for multi-protocol event-handling
- Visual debugging during simulations or in run-time;
- Configuration editor for easier viewing and editing of parameter files;
- Out of the box integration with the ROS ecosystem;
- Easy porting into a runtime environment, or for sharing with others in the ROS community.
For more details, visit the MOV.AI website here.