Proposal: Robotics

This is a grey area I would like to be clarified a bit more. For example, a robotics software working in real-time, probably uses RTAI. Now if you have a question related to RTAI itself, should it be asked here or in stackoverflow? An example of one such question is this.

Perhaps, being more specific, I could ask the following: Should only algorithms related to robotics be discussed here, or the questions regarding APIs made for robotics applications could also be asked? In the later case, does that mean whatever question on stackoverflow related to robotics can be migrated here?

In other words, is software for robotics going to be a part equally important as the mechanics and electronics of a robot (for example) in this website?

5 Answers 5


The policy we seem to be developing over on Raspberry Pi stack exchange is one of relative permissiveness with regards to strict cross-site division.

Thus we have had a number of questions which should strictly have been moved to Electronics or Unix & Linux but have stayed on Raspberry Pi because while they could be answered on those other sites, they are still directly relevant to Raspberry Pi users and answers on raspberrypi will be more appropriate to Raspberry Pi users than an answer on a sister site might end up.

In many ways, it's a shame that questions can't be shared between sites, as there is often genuine and unavoidable overlap between the scope of some sites.

Unfortunately the logistics of shared questions would be horrendous (since the moderation would have to be shared as well as the questions and answers) and shared questions would almost certainly be abused, so I can understand why they have never been (and probably never will be) implemented. It is the Tragedy of the Commons sadly, so we all just have to route around the problem instead, hence discussions like this.

As ThomasH said "The issue of cross-posting # has come up repeatedly but only rarely gets a supportive response". # Where cross-posting is multi-posting in the usenet sense.

Anyway, what I would suggest is that you migrate software development questions which aren't actually about Robotics but be relatively tolerant of questions which are.

  • This of course makes sense. I edited my question to ask a more clear question. What I had in mind was to know, in simple words, whether there would be software people in robotics.stackexchange too or not. Nevertheless, your idea of sharing questions between websites is actually very good. Have you tried suggesting this feature?
    – Shahbaz
    Sep 19, 2012 at 20:02
  • The issue of cross-posting has come up repeatedly but only rarely gets a supportive response
    – ThomasH
    Sep 25, 2012 at 9:22
  • @Mark - That was the sentiment of my comment as well :) Probably should have summarised some of the links
    – ThomasH
    Sep 25, 2012 at 14:04

Robotics has become more algorithmic and less electronic/mechanical in the past decade. Now, we can buy off-the-shelf platforms for mobility, vision and localization. However, how we integrate these sensors and mobile platforms is solidly rooted in computer science, statistics and math. I predict that most of the questions asked in this forum will be about software and algorithms instead of motors and transistors.

  • It will be interesting to see if this prediction comes true. For someone like myself, robotics is still very much a mechanical problem, but I can see your point. Sep 23, 2012 at 9:27
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    I think there will be plenty of questions for all areas of robotics, once we have a suitable site. The interesting thing about robotics is the fusion of software, hardware and electronics, so a mechatronic system is only as good as the weakest link.
    – Mark Booth
    Sep 25, 2012 at 9:43
  • I think Mark phrased it very well. My prediction comes out of the fact that the mechanical and electrical parts of robotics are becoming robust, standardized and well-understood. So, the weakest link is quickly becoming our understanding and implementation of software algorithms for robotics. Sep 27, 2012 at 23:55
  • There are three parts to robotics: gathering input data, processing the data in order to make decisions, and using the processed data to output an action of some sort. The second part is what separates robots from other machines, and I would expect to see most questions here relating to it.
    – tyjkenn
    Oct 18, 2012 at 0:38
  • Incidentally, see me comment on bit-pirate's answer.
    – Mark Booth
    Oct 19, 2012 at 11:04

Actually my commitment is mostly based on the programming aspects of robotics. I would for now be more interested in working with robot simulators like the Player/Stage project.

Though I would put questions that are more general about programming to StackOverflow but would maybe ask specifics about the API of Player/Stage or things like algorithms for path finding, map making and similar problems here.


I agree with Chris and to answer the initial question: In my opinion Robotics-related software questions can/should be asked here.

I believe, this forum will contain a significant amount of programmers asking and answering such questions. However, if people get stuck in a very difficult and software-only problem, stackoverflow might be of better help.

  • I would counsel against calling a stack exchange site a forum - a stack exchange site is not a forum, it doesn't behave like a forum and calling it a forum only encourages people to treat it like one and bring along all of the bad habits which make fora so bad for Q&A.
    – Mark Booth
    Oct 19, 2012 at 11:00

I can see this Q&A being helpful for software questions that directly relate to controlling hardware. In other words any software question that is dependent on specific hardware would belong here. For example "how do I turn off global interrupts on a [*] board?" would be way to specific for SO but may be appropriate to ask here.


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