Ignition Gazebo

API Reference

Spherical coordinates

Gazebo supports the use of real world latitude and longitude coordinates in its simulations using the WGS84 geodetic system.

Gazebo's simulation is always performed in Cartesian coordinates (good old XYZ). Therefore, in order to use spherical coordinates, it's necessary to project coordinates expressed in the WGS84 frame to Cartesian and back.

This tutorial will go over how to:

  • Define what latitude / longitude the world origin corresponds to
  • Query the world origin or an entity's coordinates in latitude / longitude
  • Spawn entities at given latitude / longitude
  • Teleport entities based on a given latitude / longitude

Coordinates for the world origin

The world's Cartesian coordinates correspond to a local tangent plane at a given point on the planetary surface. By default, this plane follows the ENU (East-North-Up) convention, as shown on the image below:


Users can define where the origin of the ENU coordinates sits on the surface of the planet in three different ways: through the SDF file, the GUI, or through an Ignition Transport service call.

Changing the world origin will only affect operations performed afterwards. For example, models already in the world will not be moved when the world origin's coordinates change.

SDF file

On the SDF file, it's possible to define the world origin's spherical coordinates with the /world/spherical_coordinates element.

For example:


At the moment, the only surface model supported is WGS84 and the only world frame orientation is ENU.

Try out an example world that ships with Gazebo and has the coordinates above as follows:

ign gazebo spherical_coordinates.sdf

On the component inspector, expand the Spherical Coordinates component to see that the coordinates were set correctly:



To change the world origin through the GUI, edit values within the component inspector shown above, and these changes will be reflected on simulation.


It's also possible to change the coordinates for the world origin at runtime through the /world/<world_name>/set_spherical_coordinates service.

Loading the world above, try calling for example:

ign service \
-s /world/spherical_coordinates/set_spherical_coordinates \
--reqtype ignition.msgs.SphericalCoordinates \
--reptype ignition.msgs.Boolean \
--timeout 2000 \
--req "surface_model: EARTH_WGS84, latitude_deg: 35.6, longitude_deg: 140.1, elevation: 10.0"

You should see the coordinates changing on the GUI.

Creating entities

See the Entity creation tutorial for an introduction to creating entities.

In order to create an entity at a given spherical coordinate using the /world/<world_name>/create service, omit the pose field from the ignition::msgs::EntityFactory message and use the spherical_coordinates field instead.

For example, you can spawn a sphere into the spherical_coordinates.sdf world as follows:

ign service -s /world/spherical_coordinates/create \
--reqtype ignition.msgs.EntityFactory \
--reptype ignition.msgs.Boolean \
--timeout 300 \
--req 'sdf: '\
'"<?xml version=\"1.0\" ?>'\
'<sdf version=\"1.6\">'\
'<model name=\"spawned_model\">'\
'<link name=\"link\">'\
'<visual name=\"visual\">'\
'<collision name=\"visual\">'\
'</sdf>" '\
'spherical_coordinates: {latitude_deg: 35.59999, longitude_deg: 140.09999, elevation: 11.0} '

Moving entities

It's also possible to move entities to a given spherical coordinate. Just use the set_spherical_coordinate service that was used to set the world origin, but specify the entity to be moved.

For example, to move the sphere created above:

ign service -s /world/spherical_coordinates/set_spherical_coordinates \
--reqtype ignition.msgs.SphericalCoordinates \
--reptype ignition.msgs.Boolean \
--timeout 300 \
--req 'entity: {name: "spawned_model", type: MODEL}, latitude_deg: 35.59990, longitude_deg: 140.09990'

Querying entities' coordinates

When writing plugins, developers can use the ignition::gazebo::sphericalCoordinates helper function to query the current coordinates for any entity that has a pose.