Case Studies – How Softbank engineers learn complex ROS subjects fast

Case Studies - How Softbank engineers learns complex ROS subjects fast

Written by The Construct


SoftBank Corp. is a Japanese telecom operator, a core company of SoftBank group.

We talk to Tadashi Imokawa, an engineer at SoftBank Corp. in charge of the hardware and software development of the company’s robots, Tomohiko Furutani manager of the AI robot development team about their necessity of learning ROS for robotics, and how they and their team are learning difficult ROS subjects.

Is it both of you that are learning ROS?

Imokawa: Well, we already know ROS, I mean, we know how to do subscribers, create nodes, call action servers… However, sometimes we need to know how a very specific part of ROS works, like for example, how to use a manipulator. In that case, we need to use your academy to learn those subjects.

Why are you learning ROS?

Furutani: We want to make extensive usage of ROS in our robots.

Which ROS methods have you tried?

Imokawa: We used general ROS books. Also, the official ROS wiki page provided by and we dedicated a lot of time to read the code on the gits of different developers. Learning that way is the traditional way, and it is sometimes very complicated.

Furutani: We also used some subscription services like PackT which provide a lot of books about the subject.

Why do you think those learning methods are complicated?

Imokawa: Because in order to do tests of what we learn, we need to set up a full development environment. That takes time and is complicated. Furthermore, sometimes, it doesn’t work correctly (what you are supposed to obtain and what you actually obtain). It takes a lot of time

Furutani: Yes the testing environment itself takes time, and that sometimes can be very frustrating.

Why did you choose to learn with Robot Ignite Academy?

Imokawa: Well, your academy has some basic and intermediate courses about subjects that we already master. But for more complicated subjects we cannot find much information on the internet, but you have interesting courses teaching those subjects.

Furutani: Also you provide an already working environment for those complicated subjects. When you want to test a complicated ROS subject, you need to have a lot of preparation (complex simulations running, complex code and instructions). Your academy already provides all that ready to start learning.

What are you missing at Robot Ignite Academy?

Imokawa: We feel your service is kind of laggy, specially when we use graphical tools on the web browser.

Furutani: It is probably because we are in Japan and we are far from your servers in Europe.

(By the time this interview is published, Robot Ignite Academy has established a system of replicated academies around the globe for different zones, in order to solve the problem of latency. We have reduced an 83% the latency in countries like Japan, Australia and San Francisco).

SoftBank team with ROS prototype robots

Which ROS subjects are you interested in?

Imokawa: We are specially interesting at ROS Navigation and ROS Manipulation, mainly indoor navigation.

Which computer type (O.S.) are you using to learn ROS?

Furutani: We use Linux Ubuntu machines for programming. But due to security issues, for the learning, we are using Windows computers.

Have you applied what you learned to real robots? Which ones?

Furutani: Not yet. We are still in the process of learning and identifying where to apply it. We are expecting some results in the close future

Thank you for your time!

And for all of you reading this case study, consider the amount of time you will save if you use the Robot Ignite Academy to train your engineers on ROS based robotics. We have courses for learning the basics of ROS, but we also have more advanced courses that teach how to apply it to self-driving cars, drones, deep learning with robots, Reinforcement Learning applied to ROS robots, industrial robots and many more. Just check our current list of courses on this page and give it a free try.

Other companies that use our academy to train their teams

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