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Companies using robots across a wide variety of industries will now be able to write cloud-based applications for those robots on Amazon Web Services.

Hours before the official kickoff of re:Invent 2018, AWS announced RoboMaker, a development environment based around the open-source Robotics Operating System (ROS) that helps customers manage robotics applications on public cloud servers. It works alongside several other cloud services from AWS, including the Amazon Rekognition video-analysis service and the Amazon Polly speech-generation service, to help developers use robots in industrial and commercial settings, the cloud leader said in a press release.

Manufacturing companies are embracing robots, and that is already having a big impact on the economy. But connecting and managing robots using standard software-development techniques is still pretty hard compared to the usual places that applications run, with the field of industrial internet-of-things development still in its early days.

In what could be a preview of warming relations between AWS and the open-source community this week in Las Vegas, the company also announced that it would open source the extensions it wrote around ROS to create RoboMaker under the Apache 2.0 license. A small but growing number of open-source developers have started to express concerns about the ability of cloud providers to take open-source projects and offer revenue-generating cloud services based on that code without contributing anything in return, and AWS made sure to note that it was a member of the ROS community and “AWS’s contributions to ROS2 include real-time messaging, security, and authentication, as well as working with the robotics community to migrate source code packages from ROS1 to ROS2,” it said.

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