Looking for advice on ROS, MIND, and the robotics software ecosystem. Thanks in advance!

Hi r/robotics,

I recently found this subreddit and I gotta say, I love it so far. Everyone here seems to genuinely care about helping beginners and hobbyists get their feet under them while diving into robotics. I would firmly put myself in the hobbyist category and thus I have plenty of questions that I hope you all can answer.

A little background: I am a software engineer by trade and so far most of my experience has been in building cloud-based services and applications. That being said, I have had a chance to work on a few embedded applications projects (in C) as of late and it has really grown my interest in all things robotics. I give you my brief background because I think my current skillset will have a heavy influence on how you all answer my questions. So to summarize my skillset: Software ✓✓, Electronics Theory ✓, Mechanical Background –.

As I dive deeper into robotics I’d like to put an emphasis on software and slowly add in the areas that I am less adept in such as mechanical and electronic engineering. Of course I will continue learning and improving in those areas, but I feel that if I dive off the deep end with a project that is heavy in mechanical challenges I could frustrate myself into disinterest for the project.

With all that out of the way here is my main question:
Any recommendations on starter robots that I can start tinkering with right away?

I’d like to avoid building the “body” of a robot right out of the gate. The most promising i’ve found so far is the HEXA by Vincross. It seems to check every box, but I’m curious what this community’s experience has been with it.

  • Is the company responsive to issues?
  • Is the SDK robust?
  • Is it a cheap piece of junk or a decent buy?
  • How does MIND compare to ROS?
  • Is there a major risk of this company “disappearing” overnight and discontinuing the product (causing any time I’ve put into it to be a waste)?
  • Last, and this one may be a little controversial but, I noticed Vincross is located in China, which on it’s surface isn’t a big deal, however there have been quite a few accusations of chinese companies stealing intellectual property from various EU and US companies and I am a little concerned that anything done with the HEXA will be tracked or uploaded to a vincross server somewhere. I know know, its a stretch but I wanted to know if anyone else had the same concern or if Vincross themselves have addressed that question.

Any and all input or advice is very much appreciated. If I need to clarify any of the questions above please let me know!

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