Robot simulation is an essential tool in every roboticist's toolbox. A well-designed simulator makes it possible to rapidly test algorithms, design robots, perform regression testing, and train AI system using realistic scenarios. Gazebo offers the ability to accurately and efficiently simulate populations of robots in complex indoor and outdoor environments. At your fingertips is a robust physics engine, high-quality graphics, and convenient programmatic and graphical interfaces. Best of all, Gazebo is free with a vibrant community.
The previous newsletter described SubT and indicated that development has started to focus on its needs. SubT is a long running program with a final competition to be held in the fall of 2021. This schedule places certain restrictions on the set of software that we can use, assuming we want to avoid EOL distributions at the time of the final competition. A larger concern is the scope of simulation requirements, which can be summarized as tens of heterogeneous robots operating in underground spaces with a traversable length of tens of kilometers.
Based on time schedule and feature requirements, we are pursing a two-phased development strategy. Phase 1 is aimed at satisfying near term needs through the use of existing software which includes Gazebo 9, ROS Melodic and Ubuntu Bionic. In this phase, the largest limitation will be scale. The size of robot teams and environment complexity will be restricted. Phase 2 will address scale issues and incorporate new features through the use of the Ignition libraries in Gazebo 11.
You may have noticed that Gazebo version 10 was skipped. This is because we are too close to the Gazebo 10 release date to make the changes needed for SubT. So, Gazebo 10 will be an incremental improvement to Gazebo 9 and Gazebo 11 will contain the major new features required by SubT.
As a user and/or developer of Gazebo, you can expect the following.
We'd like to thank the following person for their contributions to Gazebo.
The following list includes releases made over the past month.
Ignition Transport 5, currently in prerelease, ships with a message logging API and a helpful command line tool. Logging is acheived by writing serialized Protobuf messages along with metadata, such as topic name and message type, into an SQLite3 database.
We chose to use SQLite3 due to its stability, performance, cross-platform support, and large community with numerous tools, applications, and language bindings. Performance is an important consideration since we may need to log large quantities of messages, both in size and count. We evaluated the performance of SQLite using statistics published by the authors of SQLite.
We also ran a few tests ourselves to augment the official SQLite statistics. For 10KB messages we achieved a write speed of 210MB/s or roughly 21k msgs/sec. For comparison a 4.5GB file copied from one part of a disk to another achieved a rate of 189MB/sec. This result indicates that SQLite is utilizing the disk well, and is likely bound by disk bandwidth.
Take a look at this tutorial to get started with logging through Ignition Transport.
This month's featured model is a Toyota Prius equipped with a variety of sensors. The sensors include an IMU and GPS along with set of cameras, sonars, and LIDARs. This Prius model is perfect for testing and developing autonomous vehicle software.
Most recent active questions
Utilizing OGRE, Gazebo provides realistic rendering of environments including high-quality lighting, shadows, and textures.
Generate sensor data, optionally with noise, from laser range finders, 2D/3D cameras, Kinect style sensors, contact sensors, force-torque, and more.
Develop custom plugins for robot, sensor, and environmental control. Plugins provide direct access to Gazebo's API.
Many robots are provided including PR2, Pioneer2 DX, iRobot Create, and TurtleBot. Or build your own using SDF.
Run simulation on remote servers, and interface to Gazebo through socket-based message passing using Google Protobufs.
Extensive command line tools facilitate simulation introspection and control.
A simple set of steps to get Gazebo up and running rapidly.
Description of Gazebo's hotkeys and mouse interactions.
The best way to start using Gazebo is to run through the tutorials. These tutorials cover both basic and simple concepts through a series of exercises.
If you can't find what you are looking for, try our askbot help forum located at answers.gazebosim.org.
Want to exchange ideas with the rest of the community? Come to community.gazebosim.org.
A high-level description of Gazebo and its various components.
Doxygen generated documentation for the Gazebo libraries.
A complete list of all the protobuf messages used by Gazebo
SDFormat is an XML file format that defines environments and models. This specification defines all the XML elements for describing world and models.
Gazebo will release a new major version once a year on the last week of January. Even numbered releases will have a life-span of two years, and odd five years.
The following roadmap is a best guess at the available features for each version. At the time of release more or fewer features may be available.
Refer documentation in downstream applications, such as ROS, for version compatiblilty.
A tick-tock release cycle allows easy migration to new software versions. Obsolete Gazebo code is marked as deprecated for one major release. Deprecated code produces compile-time warnings. These warning serve as notification to users that their code should be upgraded. The next major release will remove the deprecated code.
Example where function foo is deprecated and replaced by function bar:
|Gazebo v1.0||Gazebo v2.0||Gazebo v3.0|
Gazebo supports the ODE, Bullet, Simbody and DART physics engines. By default Gazebo is compiled with support for ODE. In order to use the other engines, first make sure they are installed and then compile Gazebo from source.
|Physics Engine||Gazebo Version||Availability||Notes|
|ODE||1.9+||Binary,Source||Default engine. Gazebo maintains a fork of ODE which has diverged from the upstream package.|
|Bullet||3.0+||Source||Gazebo requires libbullet2.82, available in the OSRF repository and to be included in Ubuntu Utopic.|
|Simbody||3.0+||Source||Simbody packages are hosted in the OSRF repository. Expected to appear in Ubuntu Utopic official repositories.|
|DART||3.0+||Source||DART packages are hosted in dartsim PPA. DART is in the process of moving toward inclusion in Ubuntu.|
We are developing a physics plugin framework to resolve dependency issues. Each physics engine will interface to Gazebo through a plugin, avoiding the need to compile Gazebo with support for each engine.
Gazebo development began in the fall of 2002 at the University of Southern California. The original creators were Dr. Andrew Howard and his student Nate Koenig. The concept of a high-fidelity simulator stemmed from the need to simulate robots in outdoor environments under various conditions. As a complementary simulator to Stage, the name Gazebo was chosen as the closest structure to an outdoor stage. The name has stuck despite the fact that most users of Gazebo simulate indoor environments.
Over the years, Nate continued development of Gazebo while completing his PhD. In 2009, John Hsu, a Senior Research Engineer at Willow, integrated ROS and the PR2 into Gazebo, which has since become one the primary tools used in the ROS community. A few years later in the Spring of 2011, Willow Garage started providing financial support for the development of Gazebo. In 2012, Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF) spun out of Willow Garage and became the steward of the Gazebo project. After significant development effort by a team of talented individuals, OSRF used Gazebo to run the Virtual Robotics Challenge, a component in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, in July of 2013.
OSRF continues development of Gazebo with support from a diverse and active community. Stay tuned for more exciting developments related to robot simulation.