Efforts to boost robot-to-robot cooperation took a giant step during July’s International Joint Conference in Artificial Intelligence, when roboticists around the world decided to start with human-to-human cooperation.

The science of developing robots, though narrow, was surprisingly fractured until the development of the Robot Operating System (ROS).

“Each robot is individually manufactured to meet a specific need and more than likely built in isolation,” NewScientist.com reported Monday.

“It’s easier to build everything from the ground up right now because each team’s requirements are so different, “ said Anne-Marie Bourcier of Aldebaran Robotics in Paris, according to NewScience.

However, roboticists are collaborating on those aspects of their programming that can be shared with others.

“Any benefit that a robot maker might reap from keeping some aspect of their operating software secret would seem to be vastly outweighed by the benefit of pooling resources with other researchers and spreading out the testing and debugging among the group, particularly for the features that are common to almost all advanced robots and don't confer a particular competitive advantage,” OSNews.com reported.

Programmers at the IJCAI conference, held in Pasadena, Calif., were drawn from widespread teams, some hailing from Stanford University, MIT and the Technical University of Munich, Germany. Those institutions are behind the effort to establish a strong ROS.

There are several challenges to this type of collaboration, however, and many stem from the nature of a business where every project has very specific needs.

Robots range from nearly autonomous to human operated, so creating an operating system that works for all of them is nearly impossible. Still, programmers believe it’s important first step.

"Robotics is at the stage where personal computing was about 30 years ago," says Chad Jenkins of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, according to NewScience. "But at some point we have to come together to use the same resources," says Jenkins.

As in computing, competitive profit may eventually win out over open-source collaboration despite these early efforts to share information.

OSNews also reported that Microsoft has created a Robotics Developer Center, which may provide enough tools for robot developers to beat out other collaborative efforts in the near future.