It is been eight years since ROS was born. Back then there were many purpose built systems to control the variety of modules that compose a robot, but there was no generic open source framework that would foster the wide range of development we see a robots today. So it began in 2009 with “ROS: An Open-Source Robot Operating System” that was presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Japan. Since then it is been cited more than 2000 times and the rate of citation is increasing at about 50% per year!
In 2015 somewhere between $100 and $200 million in venture capital has been raised by companies that use ROS. In fact, there is already a O’Reilly book titled "Programming Robots With ROS: A Practical Introduction to the Robot Operating System", by Morgan Quigley, Brian Gerkey, and Bill Smart. ROS is already being used in a wide range of devices and products, too many to list here, but the following short video gives you a good sense of the range and depth of the applications:
So if robot development is in your future, then ROS is something you need to check out.