For almost 15 years, some of the more interesting work in the field of robotics has been driven by open source efforts. Last year, the Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF) took shape, which is a well funded and organized central entity that can provide oversight to some of the most important open source robotics efforts. The organization recently helped the U.S. Defense Department host its Virtual Robotics Challenge (VRC) entirely in the cloud, with participants in the competition competing from remote locations using SoftLayer Technologies' cloud computing platform.
The Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF) is a non-profit organization charged with supporting the development, distribution and adoption of open source software for use in robotics research, education and product development. It arose from Willow Garage, a robotics project that originated at Stanford University. (One of Willow Garage's robots is shown in the photo here.)