Gazebo Sim

API Reference

Headless Rendering

It is often desirable to run simulation on a remote computer, such as a computer managed by cloud provider, in order to paralellize work or access specific compute resources. Simulated sensors that require GPU access have historically been difficult to use on a remote computer due to OpenGL's X server requirement on linux systems. This issue can be resolved through installation and proper configuration of X, but the steps can be complex and error prone.

An easier solution is through the use of EGL, which allows for the the creation of rendering surfaces without an X server. Gazebo has added support for EGL via the --headless-rendering command line option. Use of EGL is only available with OGRE2.

Example usage:

gz sim -v 4 -s --headless-rendering sensors_demo.sdf

If you are using Gazebo as a library, then you can configure the server to use headless rendering through the ServerConfig::SetHeadlessRendering(bool) function. Make sure your SDF world uses OGRE2.

AWS Example

This example will guide you through the process of launching and configuring an AWS GPU instance with Gazebo running headless. A GPU instance is recommended when sensors that require a render engine are used. It is possible to use a machine without a GPU, in which case OGRE will revert to software rendering. You can read more about OGRE's EGL implementation here.

  1. Go to the AWS EC2 service
  2. Click the Launch Instance button in the upper right.
  3. Select Ubuntu Server version 20.04 or greater from the AMI list.
  4. Choose a GPU enabled instance type, such as g3.4xlarge.
  5. Enable Auto-assign Public IP on the Configure Instance Details step. This is not the best practice, but it simplifies this tutorial.
  6. Add around 200GB storage to your instance on the Add Storage step.
  7. Enable ssh source Anywhere on the Configure Security Group step.
  8. Review and launch your instance. Make sure to setup a key pair in the popup that appears after clicking Launch.
    1. You can configure other options as needed. Review the AWS documentation for additional help.
  9. Select the newly launched instance on the EC2 dashboard, and take note of the Public IPv4 address.
  10. SSH into your new machine instance.
  11. Install Ubuntu drivers, which will install nvidia drivers:
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt install ubuntu-drivers-common
    sudo ubuntu-drivers install
  12. Add the ubuntu user to the render group, which is required to access to the dri interfaces.
    sudo usermod -a -G render ubuntu
  13. Reboot the machine and log back in.
    sudo reboot
  1. Install Gazebo.
  2. Run a Gazebo world that uses OGRE2 with camera sensors using headless rendering. This will enable EGL.
    gz sim -v 4 -s -r --headless-rendering sensors_demo.sdf
  3. Check that simulation is producing sensor data by ssh'ing into the EC2 instance from a new terminal and echoing a sensor topic.
    gz topic -et /thermal_camera