New package: Frontier Exploration

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From Paul Bovbel via ros-users@

Hello ros-users,

This package implements frontier exploration using an action server (explore_server), that can be controlled from rviz via explore_client, or directly from other nodes.

When starting out with ROS, I was frustrated that there was no (maintained) exploration package that worked solely using the core ROS APIs (i.e. navigation).

Internally, this package contains a custom costmap_2d layer plugin that could be adapted for more complex exploration strategies.

Please email or post any feedback, comments or concerns!

New version of STDR SImulator

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From Manos Tsardoulias via ros-users@

The current version of STDR Simulator is 0.1.3! The changes compared to the v0.1.0 follow:
  • Full support of robots with polygonal footprint
  • Zoom in STDR GUI is also performed with the mouse wheel
  • Fixed saving and loading robots and sensors from the Robot Creator in GUI
  • Added odometry publisher
  • Added robot-to-obstacles collision check
Special thanks to trainman419 for contributions in 
  • the polygonal robot support and the odometry publisher
  • GUI makefiles
  • writing a tutorial on robot teleoperation with STDR using teleop_twist_keyboard.

The next version (v0.1.4) will include full support of RFID tags and RFID reader sensors.

NooTriX posted Hydro VM Image

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From Nootrix via ros-users:

We finally managed to make a virtual machine with Hydro. As usual, it's freely available for download at:

NooTriX Team

ROS user survey: the results are in

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The results are in from the January 2014 ROS user survey. Thanks to everyone who participated!

We had a total of 336 responses. We'll walk through the questions, one at a time:

In general, for what do you use ROS?


Not surprisingly, the lion's share of ROS users consider themselves to be doing research. That's where we started, and we expect to continue to see high participation in the research community. But we also see about 1/3 of respondents classifying themselves in education and 1/3 in product development, with a smaller share of self-identified hobbyists. Those are all areas for future growth in ROS usage.

What about ROS convinced you to use it?


Interestingly, the top response here is the communications system. When we set out to build ROS, we started with the communications system, because we believe that robotics problems are most naturally solved by developing distributed systems, and further that developing those systems is hard, requiring solid, easy to use tools. It looks like our users appreciate the effort that's been put into ROS middleware.

Also near the top are what we can call the "healthy open source project" benefits: friendly licensing, helpful community, and playing nicely with related open source projects.

How do you primarily use ROS?


Most users are working with a single robot, but a substantial number of people are working with multiple robots, which was outside the initial design of ROS. Multi-robot support definitely needs improvement, but clearly people are already getting something out of ROS in multi-robot environments.

With what type(s) of hardware do you use ROS?


At least in part because most robots in the world (or at least in research labs) are basically cameras and/or lasers on wheels, we see most of our users working on those platforms. But we also see a fair number of people working with arms and hands, and we expect that the number of legged systems will grow in the future.

Have you shared and/or released your own ROS packages?


Here we see a familiar pattern in open source development: most users don't share their code with the community. That's OK with us, because we know that not everybody is in a position to share their code (for example, commercial users who are building ROS-based products). But if you can share code, please do!

Which ROS packages are most important to you?


Here, we have some clear winners. Visualization is important: rviz is a critical piece of infrastructure in our community, and the rqt library of visualization components is also heavily used. Also highly ranked are planning libraries (navigation and MoveIt!), perception libraries (PCL and OpenCV), coordinate transform management (tf), and simulation (Gazebo). Interestingly, we see the OpenNI driver in the top ten, perhaps reflecting the long-standing connection between ROS and Kinect-like devices, dating back to the ROS 3D Contest.

Where should future ROS development focus?


Less clarity here; basically we should do more of everything.

What is your top priority for future ROS development?

The free-form answers we received in response to this question are challenging to quantify. At a high-level, here's a qualitative distillation of common themes, in no particular order:

  • more / better documentation
  • more / better / more up-to-date tutorials
  • improved usability
  • greater stability, less frequent releases
  • better multi-master / multi-robot support
  • consolidation of related parts into coherent wholes
  • better / more mature middleware
  • better / more attentive maintenance of core libraries and tools
  • add features and fix bugs in rqt
  • get to "production quality"
  • IDE support
  • real time support

Would you be willing to anonymously report usage statistics?


About 1/2 of respondents are willing to install a plugin to roscore that would track and anonymously report usage statistics, which would let us automatically collect data on which packages, nodes, launch files, etc. are most heavily used. Any volunteers to write that plugin?

Call for Participation: ROS Kong 2014

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We're pleased to announce that registration is now open for ROS Kong 2014, an international ROS users group meeting, to be held on June 6th at Hong Kong University, immediately following ICRA:


This one-day event, our first official ROS meeting in Asia, will complement ROSCon 2014, which will happen later this year (stay tuned for updates on that event).

Register for ROS Kong 2014 today: Early registration ends April 30, 2014.

ROS Kong 2014 will feature: * Invited speakers: Learn about the latest improvements to and applications of ROS software from some of the luminaries in our community. * Lightning talks: One of our most popular events, lightning talks are back-to-back 3-minute presentations that are scheduled on-site. Bring your project pitch and share it with the world! * Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) meetings: Get together with folks who share your specific interest, whether it's ROS in embedded systems, ROS in space, ROS for products, or anything else that will draw a crowd.

To keep us all together, coffee breaks and lunch will be catered on-site. There will also be a hosted reception (with food and drink) at a classic Hong Kong venue at the end of the day. Throughout the day, there will be lots of time to meet other ROS users both from Asia and around the world.

If you have any questions or are interested in sponsoring the event please contact us at

Sincerely, Your ROS Kong 2014 Organizing Committee Tully Foote, Brian Gerkey, Wyatt Newman, Daniel Stonier

From Bert Willaert of Intermodalics.

Intermodalics is currently developing a depalletizing application for a client. The goal is to move an average of 2,000 crates per hour from standard pallets to a conveyor belt. Additional challenges include: more than 10 different crate types can occur in varying colors, the crates are not necessarily empty and they are randomly stacked.

The application consists of a UR10 robot from Universal Robots, a 3D camera, an Intermodalics Intelligent Controller (IIC) and an active pallet lift. The software for the application running on the IIC extensively uses ROS and the OROCOS toolchain. OROCOS is a software framework for realtime, distributed robot and machine control which is seamlessly integrated with ROS and has both Industrial and Academic users worldwide.

For finding the crates' position and orientation, Intermodalics developed a crate localizer that builds upon the PCL library as well as on a set of in-house developed point-cloud processing algorithms. The ROS visualization tool RViz proved absolutely invaluable during the realization of this product locator.

The use of the ROS-Industrial package for the UR robot allows both the motions and the application state machine to be simulated. This significantly facilitates the implementation of the whole application.

The integration of the UR controller and the IIC does not affect the inherent safety feature of the UR robot which makes the robot stop if it encounters excessive forces. If such a stop occurs, the application can be easily restarted by a simple human operator intervention.

Announcing a ROS Japan Users Group Meetup

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From Daiki via ros-users@

Content? Explanation of the concept of ROS
Organizer? ROS Japan User's Group and Mamezou Inc.
Number of participants? 30
Venue? 2-7-1 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo
Dates? April 12, 2014 at 13:30 ~ 18:30
Twitter hashtag? #rosjp

Scheduled to be held every month.

ROS Indigo Igloo buildfarm running

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We're pleased to announce the ROS build farm for Indigo Igloo is now available.  It includes over 180 packages already for Ubuntu 13.10, Saucy Salamander, and Ubuntu 14.04, Trusty Tahr. We expect that number to continue to grow rapidly. Installation instructions already exist for Ubuntu using debians or for compiling from source [1], and you can see the status of Indigo packages on this page:

If you are a maintainer please look at what packages have been released and consider releasing yours as soon as your upstream dependencies have been satisfied.  If you are blocked on another package being released please contact the maintainer.  And if you cannot reach the maintainer please email (join if you aren't a member already).

If you are planning to release into Indigo please read the information provided in the migration guide [2] and refer to the bloom tutorials [3] for doing the release. Please also contribute to the migration guide for updates relating to your package.

After releasing your packages the build farm will keep you notified of the status of the individual jobs. Please pay attention to the automated emails from the buildfarm, if jobs are failing they block downstream packages from releasing and waste our build resources. 

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