September 2011 Archives

Oier Mees on ros-users writes


During a summer internship in Tekniker Research Center, I have developed a telepresence and teleoperation application which I have just published. You can teleoperate the robot, in my case a segway rmp 200 with a kinect on top, with the joystick or the gyro of the PS3 controller, besides the usual buttons of the UI. Also, a videoconference is performed with the client PC and if the user clicks inside the rectangle where the kinects video stream is shown, the robot will attempt to reach that destination. For instance, as you can see in the demo video, if the user clicks on a person who is in the middle of a corridor, the robot will calculate the distance thanks to the kinects depth sensor and try to go to destination by using ROS navigation stack.

A coworker is now going to continue developing and maintaining it, so we would be grateful for any kind of feedback or contribution.

You can grab the code at github and see a demo video on YouTube.

Oier Mees

David Kotfis from the Personal Robotics group at Cornell University writes

Hello ROS Users!

The Personal Robotics group at Cornell University would like to add its repository to the list. Our package, called semantic_label_3d, is used in research applications using the Kinect sensor to "label" objects in a scene. Our repository is located at

David Kotfis

Stefan Kohlbrecher & Johannes Meyer from team HECTOR Darmstadt write:

Hi ROS community,

we'd like to announce tu-darmstadt-ros-pkg, a repository providing ROS compatible software developed at TU Darmstadt. From the start, we provide packages developed in the scope of team HECTOR Darmstadt related to SLAM and object tracking in harsh environments such as those encountered in the simulated Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) environments of the RoboCup Rescue League. This is the SLAM system we used to score top places at various competitions (1st place overall RoboCup German 2011, close 2nd best in class autonomy RoboCup 2011, 3rd place SICK robot day 2010 etc.). Example videos of hectormapping from the hectorslam stack used in a handheld mapping system can be seen here:

We provide the following stacks:

hector_slam stack:

  • hector_mapping is a fast SLAM system that does not require any odometry information and is able to learn accurate grid maps of small and medium scale scenarios. It can be used interchangeably with gmapping. The system provides 2D pose estimates at 40Hz (with a Hokuyo UTM-30LX) but does not perform explicit loop closure like gmapping does.
  • hector_trajectory_server saves tf based trajectories given a source and target frame. They are made available as a nav_msgs/Path using both a service and topic. The travelled path of a robot can thus easily be visualized in rviz as well as plotted into the Geotiff generated by the hector_geotiff node.
  • hector_geotiff generates RoboCup Rescue League rules compliant GeoTiff maps with georeference information, showing both the map and the robot path. It uses nav_msgs/OccupancyGrid and nav_msgs/Path messages retrieved via services, so it can also be used with gmapping and other mapping systems.
  • hector_map_tools provides some tools related to extracting information from nav_msgs/OccupancyGrid data, like retrieving the rectangular of the map that actually contains non-unknown data.

hector_worldmodel stack:

  • object_tracker provides a probabilistic (gaussian representation) system for tracking and mapping the pose of objects of interest in the world (used for victim mapping in RoboCup Rescue).
  • world_model_msgs provides a ROS message based interface for updating the object_tracker.

hector_common stack:

  • bfl_eigen is a patched version of BFL that uses Eigen.
  • hector_marker_drawing is a class for helping with publishing marker messages.

vrmagic_camera stack: Driver for vrmagic four sensor cameras, unstable development code.

Documentation and Tutorials will be added in the coming days once the repository is indexed on

on behalf of all members of team HECTOR Darmstadt,
Stefan Kohlbrecher & Johannes Meyer

James Page from Canonical has posted about python-jenkins now available Ubuntu Oneiric Ocelot:

I'm pleased to announce that Python Jenkins 0.2 is available in Ubuntu Oneiric Ocelot and the project has now migrated to Launchpad for bug tracking, version control and release management.

The 0.2 release includes a number of bug fixes and new methods for managing Jenkins slave node configuration remotely - this is already being used in the juju charm for Jenkins to automatically creating new slave node configuration when slave node units are added to a deployed juju environment (blog posting to follow....)

python-jenkins was originally written to automate the ROS continuous integration infrastructure. James has put in a lot of work to cleanup, extend, and package the library, and we're excited to see it more broadly available to others (it can also be installed via pip or easy_install).

You can read more about how to get started with python-jenkins in James' post and you can find the documentation on

Thanks to our community, we have some new repositories available:

New repository: zeroconf-ros-pkg

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Announcement by Daniel Stonier (Yujin Robot) to ros-users

Hi all,

We would like to announce a new stack:

It is intended to be a building block that can be used to conveniently provide c++/java/ros api for handling zero-configuration services in a ros framework.

Right now it has a fairly complete linux avahi implementation and some testing code for java/android, but we'd like to also include bonjour and embedded implementations for completeness. Before going any further though, there are various open design issues that would ideally be best served by gathering interested parties to seek a consensus. Once the wiki pages are up with some info so people can do some browsing/testing, we'll invite people for an official api review to help refine the development process.

Stay tuned!

Daniel Stonier (Yujin Robot)

TurtleBot Builds on Make: Projects

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TurtleBot Arm Build on Make: Projects

In the Robot Roundup section of MAKE Volume 27, we featured the TurtleBot hobby platform as a great reasonably priced open source robotics kit. (Check out our review on page 77.) Now, the fine folks at TurtleBot are sharing project builds on our DIY wiki, Make: Projects. To date, there are eight TurtleBot projects, and there's now a TurtleBot topic page nested under the Robotics category on the site.

Read more on the Make Blog.

crossposted from

This Spring, Armin Hornung from the Humanoid Robots Lab at University of Freiburg in Germany visited us to work on 3D representations for manipulation and navigation in unstructured environments.

Armin made major improvements to the OctoMap 3D mapping library. Scan insertions are now twice as fast as before for real-time map updates and tree traversals are now possible in a flexible and efficient manner using iterators. The new ROS interface provides conversions from most common ROS datatypes, and Octomap server was updated for incremental 3D mapping.

Armin also worked on creating a dynamically updatable collision map for tabletop manipulation. The collider package uses OctoMap to provide map updates from laser and dense stereo sensors at a rate of about 10Hz.

Finally, Armin extended the ideas from collider to allow for navigation in complex three-dimensional environments. The 3d_navigation stack enables navigation with untucked arms for various mobile manipulation tasks such as docking the robot at a table, carrying trays, or pick and place tasks. The full kinematic configuration of the robot is checked against 3D collisions in a dynamically-built OctoMap in an efficient manner. The new planners based on SBPL exploit the holonomic movements of the base.

For more details, please see Armin's presentation below (download PDF) or check out octomap_mapping, collider, or the 3d_navigation stack at There is also a presentation and demo of the system scheduled at the PR2 workshop coming up at IROS 2011. Armin's improvements to OctoMap are part of OctoMap 1.2 as well as the latest octomap_mapping stack.

New repository: QUT cyphy

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Announcement by Inkyu Sa of Queensland University of Technology to ros-users

We are pleased to announce our ros repository to the ros group.

We only have few packages for the falcon driver, xsens, GPS, RemodeControl on the repository at this moment.

However, we are planning to put more open-source code on our repository aiming for development of knowledge by sharing and collaborations with our colleagues from around the world.

The address of our repository is

bzr lp:cyphy

And you can check out using "bzr" command:

bzr co lp:cyphy

Thank you.

ROS Electric update

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electric_640w.pngA new update to ROS Electric is now available. This update includes compatibility updates from William Woodall for OS X, as well as bug fixes to arm_navigation and navigation..

There are also several new stacks:

Announcement from Ryan Gariepy of Clearpath Robotics

Here at Clearpath, we've been busy shipping hordes of TurtleBots to the four corners of the earth. We're really excited to see what all of you are doing with yours, so we thought we'd show everyone what happened when we looked the other way and let them take over the office. Enjoy!

All of the code shown there has been released in the new clearpath_turtlebot stack. This stack is dedicated to giving you more to do with your TurtleBot from the moment you receive or assemble it.

Current demos include person-following, TurtleBot following, and random exploration. Demos do not involve map-building or other complex techniques, making them ideal for understanding what's going on under the hood. If TurtleBot is how you're starting out in robotics, take a look!

As always, fully assembled and tested TurtleBots can be ordered from Clearpath Robotics.

A New Framework for 3D User Interfaces in ROS

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Crossposted from

David Gossow, a recent graduate of the University of Koblenz-Landau and new doctoral student at the Technical University of Munich, visited Willow Garage this spring. David created a new general framework allowing ROS developers to create graphical 3D interfaces to their robot applications, and applied it to building new tools for Human-in-the-Loop robotic manipulation.

David's new framework, called Interactive Markers, allows a ROS application to receive input from a human operator through a compatible client software. It separates the application from the tool used for visualization and user interaction, much like a web application runs independently of the web browser. Interactive Markers offer a wide variety of display and interaction modes, enabling a broad range of new applications within ROS. David also implemented a reference front end for Interactive Markers in rviz, effectively transforming it from a robot visualization tool into an interaction engine. This new front end is a major new feature in the recent ROS Electric release.

David used the Interactive Markers framework to develop new tools for Human-in-the-Loop robotic manipulation. Assistance from a human operator allows a robot to perform complex manipulation tasks even in difficult, unstructured environments. The goal in this framework is to minimize the cognitive effort required on the human side. This can be achieved by taking advantage of the sub-tasks that the robot can perform without assistance. For example, if the operator assists in object recognition, subsequent operations such as grasping and placing can be performed autonomously. When needed, the operator can also get involved at lower levels of task execution, such as specifying grasp poses or even directly operating the robot's gripper. A complete set of tools, based on Interactive Markers, allows an operator to perform all these tasks through the rviz interface.

For more details, see David's presentation below, or check out the interactive_markers and pr2_interactive_manipulation packages on

RoboEarth ROS stack released

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Announcement to ros-users by the RoboEarth team

Dear All,

We are happy to announce the RoboEarth ROS stack.

This stack currently allows you to create 3D object models and upload them to RoboEarth. It also provides packages to download any model stored in RoboEarth and detect the described object using a Kinect or an RGB-webcam.

The main packages are:

  • re_object_recorder: Allows you to create your own 3D object model using Microsoft's Kinect sensor. By recording and merging point clouds gathered from different angles around the object, a detailed model is created, which may be shared with the world by uploading it to RoboEarth.
  • re_kinect_object_detector: Allows you to detect objects you download from RoboEarth using a Kinect.
  • re_vision: Allows you to detect objects you download from RoboEarth using a common RGB camera (i.e., no Kinect is required for detection).

For more information, please see the or our web site

Additionally, a demonstration video is available at:

We are looking forward to your feedback.

The RoboEarth Team

ROS Fuerte Planning SIGs

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We're trying a new way of planning our next ROS Distribution, ROS Fuerte, in order to make it easier for people to get involved and also handle the breadth of areas that ROS-related software deals with.

If you go to:

You will see an editable list of Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Below each SIG is a brief description as well as a signup list. We have seeded the list so that people have some examples to go by.

The process is very simple:

  1. Propose an SIG: anyone can propose an SIG. Please only propose an SIG if you are willing to contribute.
  2. Signup for an SIG: anyone can signup for an SIG. Please only signup for an SIG if you are willing to contribute (e.g. code).

The signup period will last until September 14th.

After the signup period, any SIG that has at least two people signed up for it will be considered valid. If you are proposing a SIG, we urge you to recruit authors/maintainers of the relevant software -- the authority of what goes in/out of a library remains with the maintainer/author, so their buy-in is crucial. Similarly, we encourage authors/maintainers to signup for SIGs that are relevant to their software.

The follow-up process is also very simple:

  1. Each SIG designates a SIG Coordinator. If an SIG cannot agree on a coordinator, one will be chosen for you.
  2. The coordinator will organize planning meeting(s) for the SIG. This can be over IRC, video chat, at IROS, or whatever medium bests fits the composition of your SIG. The deadline for these meetings is September 28th.
  3. Each SIG group will post their planning notes as a sub-page of The deadline for posting these notes is September 30th. SIGs can have followup meetings, but this initial deadline is to ensure that the SIG is activated.

The plans are just that -- plans. It is up to the members of each SIG to achieve as much of that plan as possible in time for the freeze dates of ROS Fuerte (remember, there's always Groovy Galapagos).

As always, we appreciate your participation. We hope this more distributed process will better match the distributed nature of ROS development.

We'd like to welcome two new maintainers to the ROS core system. Chad Rockey from NREC will be maintaining imu_drivers and laser_drivers, and Brett Grandbois from CSIRO will be maintaining dynamic_reconfigure. We're excited to see members of the community stepping up to perform this important role. Stack maintainers direct and facilitate the development of the libraries they oversee -- releases like ROS Electric can't happen without their hard work, so thanks to Chad and Brett for stepping up.


SwRI and the Motoman Robotics Division of Yaskawa America have announced that they will be collaborating to integrate Motoman® robots and ROS. SwRI's work with autonomous cars and ROS was featured in the ROS 3rd anniversary clip. The press release is included below:

SAN ANTONIO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and the Motoman Robotics Division of Yaskawa America, Inc. have entered into a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on integrating Motoman Robotics' line of industrial robots with the open-source ROS (Robot Operating System) software.

The collaboration will seek to develop, demonstrate and release to the open-source community an interface between Motoman® robots and ROS.

Motoman Robotics' line of industrial robots covers a variety of industrial automation applications in nearly every industry. ROS provides an open framework for developing advanced robotic solutions. It has a growing community of developers focusing on open-source software stacks for all aspects of robotic systems.

SwRI, as an independent, non-profit applied research and development organization, provides expertise in bringing fundamental research and technology to bear in industrial applications.

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