Ignition Gazebo

API Reference

Create System Plugins

In Ignition Gazebo, all systems are loaded as plugins at runtime. Each system is associated with an entity in simulation. Systems can be attached to the following entity types:

  • World
  • Model
  • Sensor
  • Actor

To create a system plugin for use in the simulation environment, follow the steps below.

Decide on interfaces to implement

The first step of implementing a system plugin is to determine the subset of available interfaces to implement. Aside from the base System object, there are currently three additional available interfaces:

  1. ISystemConfigure
    1. Has read-write access to world entities and components.
    2. Executed once the moment the plugin is loaded.
    3. Can be used to get custom configuration from the SDF file, register events with the event manager, as well as modifying entities and components.
  2. ISystemPreUpdate
    1. Has read-write access to world entities and components.
    2. This is where systems say what they'd like to happen at time ignition::gazebo::UpdateInfo::simTime.
    3. Can be used to modify state before physics runs, for example for applying control signals or performing network synchronization.
  1. ISystemUpdate
    1. Has read-write access to world entities and components.
    2. Used for physics simulation step (i.e., simulates what happens at time ignition::gazebo::UpdateInfo::simTime).
  2. ISystemPostUpdate
    1. Has read-only access to world entities and components.
    2. Captures everything that happened at time ignition::gazebo::UpdateInfo::simTime.
    3. Used to read out results at the end of a simulation step to be used for sensor or controller updates.

It's important to note that ignition::gazebo::UpdateInfo::simTime does not refer to the current time, but the time reached after the PreUpdate and Update calls have finished. So, if any of the *Update functions are called with simulation paused, time does not advance, which means the time reached after PreUpdate and Update is the same as the starting time. This explains why ignition::gazebo::UpdateInfo::simTime is initially 0 if simulation is started paused, while ignition::gazebo::UpdateInfo::simTime is initially ignition::gazebo::UpdateInfo::dt if simulation is started un-paused.

Systems that are only used to read the current state of the world (sensors, graphics, and rendering) should implement ISystemPostUpdate.

Generally, systems that do not manage physics stepping will not need to implement the ISystemUpdate interface.

Controllers and systems that provide feedback based on the state of the world will need to implement ISystemPostUpdate to read the state at the end of an update frame, as well as ISystemPreUpdate to provide feedback at the beginning of the next frame.

Implement Header

The header should include the System header:

Your System object should inherit from the System object as well as from any interfaces that it provides. It should then implement the corresponding methods from the inherited interfaces.

namespace sample_system
class SampleSystem:
// This class is a system.
// This class also implements the ISystemPostUpdate interface.
public: SampleSystem();
public: ~SampleSystem() override;
public: void PostUpdate(const ignition::gazebo::UpdateInfo &_info,
class SampleSystem2:
// This class is a system.
// This class also implements the ISystemPreUpdate, ISystemUpdate,
// and ISystemPostUpdate interfaces.
public: SampleSystem2();
public: ~SampleSystem2() override;
public: void PreUpdate(const ignition::gazebo::UpdateInfo &_info,
public: void Update(const ignition::gazebo::UpdateInfo &_info,
public: void PostUpdate(const ignition::gazebo::UpdateInfo &_info,

Register Plugin

If the library will only contain one plugin:

// Include a line in your source file for each interface implemented.

If the library will contain multiple plugins, in one implementation do as above, and then for each successive implementation use:


Implement Source

Implement the system class as usual, for example:

using namespace sample_system;
void SampleSystem::PostUpdate(const ignition::gazebo::UpdateInfo &_info,
ignmsg << "SampleSystem::PostUpdate" << std::endl;

Setup the build

In your CMakeLists.txt add the following

ign_find_package(ignition-plugin0 REQUIRED COMPONENTS register)
# Add sources for each plugin to be registered.
add_library(SampleSystem SampleSystem.cc SampleSystem2.cc)
set_property(TARGET SampleSystem PROPERTY CXX_STANDARD 17)

Loading your plugin

In the SDF file representing your simulation, add the plugin to the world section:

<sdf version="1.6">
<world name="default">