Gazebo Newsletter 12 August 2018

This month we have three updates on upcoming features in Ignition Robotics. The first is a new library for registering plugins and dynamically loading them at runtime. This library is called Ignition Plugin and can be found at https://bitbucket.org/ignitionrobotics/ign-plugin. A few features offered by Ignition Plugin include:

  • Users can register template-based classes as plugins and/or interfaces.
  • Plugin libraries that are no longer in use will be automatically unloaded.
  • A plugin can be registered anywhere from within any translation unit.
  • Interfaces never need to be queried by name with a string.

Ignition Transport has acquired topic remapping, which will be distributed in version 5. Topic remapping allows a user to programmatically reassign a topic's name to a different name. Remapping can be useful when playing back log files, or interfacing to another piece of software that requires a specific topic name.

Lastly, we are making progress toward Ogre2.1 support in Ignition Rendering. Support for Ogre2.1 will arrive in late September, alongside a beta release of Gazebo11. Ogre2.1 offers improved performance, material handling, and rendering fidelity.

Community Contributions

We'd like to thank the following people for their contributions to Gazebo.

Releases

The following list includes releases made over the past month.

  • Gazebo 9.3.0
  • Gazebo 7.14.0
  • Ignition CMake 1.1.0~pre2

Featured Model

Ever wanted to visualize all of the joint types in Gazebo? Then you should take a look at the Demo Joint Types model.

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Gazebo Newsletter 11 July 2018

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.

  1. Gazebo 9: Stable and released with an EOL on Jan 25, 2023
  2. Gazebo 10: To be released on Jan 24, 2019 with an EOL on Jan 24, 2021
  3. Gazebo 11: Beta to be released around Sept or Oct 2018. Incremental improvements over the first 1.5 years of SubT. Final version to be released on Jan 29 2020 with an EOL on Jan 29 2025

Community Contributions

We'd like to thank the following person for their contributions to Gazebo.

Releases

The following list includes releases made over the past month.

  • Gazebo 7.13.1
  • Ignition Math 5.0.0~pre2

Tip of the 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.

Featured Model

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.

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Gazebo Newsletter 10 June 2018

We have started to focus our development efforts on the DARPA Subterranean Challenge. Here is a write up about the challenge, originally posted on the Open Robotics blog:

If you haven't already heard of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge (or "SubT"), it's time to start paying attention.

With SubT, DARPA "aims to develop innovative technologies that would augment operations underground. The SubT Challenge will explore new approaches to rapidly map, navigate, search, and exploit complex underground environments, including human-made tunnel systems, urban underground, and natural cave networks."

DARPA announced SubT back in December, but Program Manager Dr. Timothy Chung recently announced that Open Robotics has been charged with creating and running the simulated track of the challenge.

Unlike our involvement in the DARPA Robotics Challenge in which we created a simulated environment in Gazebo for a single robot – the Atlas, SubT allows for a wide variety of robot participants.

You can read more about it in today's Wired: DARPA'S Next Challenge? A Grueling Underground Journey

DARPA will be announcing more details at the SubT Challenge kickoff in Fall 2018.

Community Contributions

We'd like to thank the following people for their contributions to Gazebo.

Releases

The following list includes releases made over the past month.

  • Gazebo 9.1.1
  • Gazebo 8.2.0
  • Gazebo 7.13.0
  • Ignition Common 1.1.1
  • Ignition Common 2.0.0~pre1
  • Ignition Fuel Tools 1.2.0
  • Ignition Cmake 0.6.0
  • Ignition Cmake 1.0.0~pre3
  • Ignition Msgs 2.0.0~pre3
  • Ignition Transport 5.0.0~pre1

Tip of the month

Visualization markers allow you to insert and modify shapes into Gazebo's 3D scene at runtime. For example, you can draw line segments to visualize the path of a mobile robot, or add custom sensor data visualizations.

Visualization markers are accessible through the "/marker" service on Ignition Transport which accepts a marker.proto message.

The following example program will help you get started: https://bitbucket.org/osrf/gazebo/src/default/examples/stand_alone/marker/.

Featured Model

The featured model this month is a traffic light. The lights on this model can be turned on by setting their emissive color either via SDF or programmatically. Take a look at this pull request for an example of traffic light control.

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Gazebo Newsletter 9 May 2018

Progress has been made on various fronts during the month of April. Ignition Physics has seen the first of a series of pull requests to define a physics abstraction layer merged. Model version support is under development on Ignition Fuel. Improved support for material properties and shapes are being added to Ignition Math. Message logging and playback has been added to Ignition Transport. And finally, Ignition Rendering can now render text in a 3D scene.

Community Contributions

We'd like to thank the following people for their contributions to Gazebo.

Releases

The following lists includes releases made over the past month.

  • Gazebo 7.12.0
  • Ignition CMake 1.0.0~pre2
  • Ignition Common 1.1.0

Tip of the month

View Angle Widget

A 3D scene projected onto a flat screen can make placement or inspection of objects difficult. The toolbar, located above Gazebo's main scene view, contains a Change View icon that looks like a wire-frame box with one surface colored orange. Selecting the Change View icon displays a widget with multiple view options.

Each of the boxes with a colored face in the Change View widget will move your camera to a particular view orientation. For example, the box with a colored face on the left will move your camera to view the scene from the left. Use the button with a home icon to move your camera back to its position and orientation when Gazebo was opened.

Finally, the drop-down located at the bottom of the Change View widget allows you to select from Perspective or Orthographic projections. While not a realistic depiction of the scene, an orthographic projection can be handy when placing and scaling objects.

For more information about the toolbar visit the User Interface Tutorial

Featured Model

The featured model this week is a gazebo made of wood.

Bugs

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Gazebo Newsletter 8 April 2018

The Gazebo newsletter is back, with the addition of Community Contributions!

The Gazebo Roadmap has been updated to reflect the development direction of Gazebo and the Ignition libraries. Most new work is happening in the Ignition Libraries where a physics abstraction layer is taking shape, message logging is almost complete,new widgets are being added to a plugin-based graphical user interface, and a rendering abstraction can make use of either a path tracing or opengl rendering engine.

Community Contributions

We'd like to thank the following people for their contributions to Gazebo. This is not an exhaustive list. Apologies if we accidentally missed your contributions.

Releases

The following lists includes releases made since the release of Gazebo 9 in January of this year.

  • Gazebo 7.11.0
  • Gazebo 8.4.0
  • Gazebo 8.4.0
  • Ignition CMake 0.5.0
  • Ignition Tools 0.1.0
  • Ignition Transport 3.1.0

Tip of the month

A relatively new feature in Gazebo is the ability to use lens flares in camera sensors. Check out the lensflare_plugin example world to get started.

Featured Model

A playground that can add a bit of interest to your outdoor environments.

Bugs

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