March 2013 Archives

New Repositories from Robotnik

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From Román Navarro García of Robotnik via ROS Users

Hi ROS community! 

After some weeks at work, we are glad to announce that we have two more repositories available: 

    -wsg50-ros-pkg: A repository that contains the ROS driver for the real and simulated version of the Weiss Robotics WSG 50 gripper ( 

    -robotnik-powerball-ros-pkg: A repository that includes the necessary files for the Schunk Powerball simulation. We can control it sending commands directly to the controller topic or via  a PS3 pad. Currently it supports Cartesian/Euler operation. (

    Furthermore, we have updated our Guardian repository ( to be able to simulate the robot in ROS Fuerte version. We have included the URDF and the launch files to represent our new mobile manipulators, the GBALL (composed by a Guardian integrating the two previous packages). GWAM robot (a Guardian integrating the Barret WAM arm) is already available and will be uploaded soon. 

Please add the Google Code repositories to the index. 

Best regards,

Román Navarro
From Patrick Goebel via ROS Users

Hello ROS users,

I have released a new package for the Element microcontroller made by cmRobot.  Details and source code can be found at:

Source: svn

(The source link should appear on the Wiki page on the next indexing.)

Features of the package include:
  • Support for a wide variety of commonly used sensors including sonar (Ping, MaxEZ1), infrared (Sharp GP2D12), temperature, current, and voltage (Phidgets), speech (Devantech SP03), compass (Devantech CMPS03), as well as generic digital and analog sensors.
  • Onboard PID controller and dual H-Bridges for driving a differential drive robot
  • One bipolar stepper motor
  • Support for controlling up to six hobby servos
  • Sensors are polled using a multi-threaded queue and can each run at their own rate
  • Connects to a PC or SBC using USB, XBee or TTL


Updated repository: universal_robot

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From Shaun Edwards on ros-users@



With the permission of the original developers, ROS-Industrial has officially taken ownership of the universal robot stack/metapackage.  The new repo can be found here:


We will be doing a groovy release from the existing driver (basically the same as fuerte).  I plan to merge changes we have made at SwRI into the master/trunk.  Some of these are improvements to the driver itself, as well as some arm navigation work. 


As with our other packages, the trunk/master will be unstable development for groovy and the branch(released) version will be stable.


As always we are interested in submission and bug fixes from the community.  If anybody is interested in helping develop this stack further, please let me know.


Thank you,



New Repository: kaist-ros-pkg

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From David Butterworth.of the Humanoid Robot Research Center via ROS Users

I would like to announce a new repository for KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology).

Hopefully this will inspire local researchers and students to become involved with the international ROS community.

At present it contains a small stack with some useful packages to integrate the Webots Simulator with ROS (this will be announced later once the documentation is online).


David Butterworth.

ROS Industrial Consortium Driver Program

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From Shaun Edwards on ros-users@



ROS-Industrial ( ) is an exciting new program to leverage ROS for industrial automation and robotics.  The program is a result of my work as a visiting researcher at Willow Garage last year.  What started as a simple project has grown into a community driven effort over the past year (much like ROS but not as big, yet).  With the goal of growing the ROS-Industrial community and increasing the support for industrial robot platforms, I would like to solicit your help.  We have two needs, basic driver development and advanced driver development.



Basic Driver Development ( ):


Over the past year we have worked to create basic drivers for the major industrial robot vendors.  We are well on our way with current support for ABB, Adept, Fanuc, Motoman, and Universal.  We are currently in need of developers for Kuka, Comau, and Kawasaki robots.  We have developed tools and libraries to facilitate development, so the amount of driver development can be minimal. 



Advanced Driver Development( ):


The goal of advanced driver development is to add functions and capabilities to the basic drivers that would be needed to deploy a real-life robot work cell.  We have brainstormed some of these requirements (see link above), but would like to get community input as well.  We'd also like community help in adding these capabilities to the existing drivers for all supported robot vendors.



If you have an interest in helping, please contact me(or reply to this email).  Thank you for your consideration,



Virtualized ROS Groovy Galapagos

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From The NooTriX team on ROS Users

Dear Fellow ROS users,

Just as we did for ROS Fuerte, we built a virtual machine with ROS Groovy pre-installed. So, people can quickly experiment with it.
More on:

BTW, thanks to the ROS core team for all the energy they put in improving our favorite robotic infrastructure.

The NooTriX team

New Package: ROS Arduino Bridge

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From Patrick Goebel via ROS Users

Hello ROS Fans,

I would like to announce a new stack for controlling an Arduino-based robot with ROS.  The official documentation can be found at:

The stack includes a base controller for a differential drive robot as well as support for reading sensors and controlling PWM servos.  The code does *not* depend on rosserial.

The packages have been tested against the ROS navigation stack (Electric) using a Pololu motor controller and Robogaia encoder shield.

This stack comes out of a discussion amongst members of the Home Brew Robotics Club (HBRC) for extending ROS support to hobby-level robots using inexpensive and easily obtained hardware.  The code was inspired by Michael Ferguson's ArbotiX drivers and borrows heavily from it.  (Thanks Fergs!)

From Jos Elfring of Eindhoven University of Technology on ros-users@

Dear all,

Eindhoven University of Technology is proud to announce the release of the following stacks:

  -  - Components needed to simulate our AMIGO-robot in Gazebo
  -  - Components needed to simulate our TUlip-robot in Gazebo
  -  - Toolkit for constructing a probabilistic world model that keeps track of object identities and properties over time

The wiki pages contain extensive documentation and numerous tutorials which will get you up and running in no time.

Furthermore, information about our robots AMIGO and TUlip - both of which participate in the RoboCup Tournaments - can be found here:


Of course, we are more than happy to receive any feedback and answer any questions regarding the use of above-mentioned stacks!


10,000 Questions Asked on ROS Answers

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This weekend, @Amal made history by asking the 10,000th question on

For posterity, here's a screenshot from Saturday night: 10001questions.png

The success of is thanks to its many contributors. has been running for a little bit over 2 years now and in that time, the community has answered 7283 questions, 73% of the questions asked. That's an average of 10 questions per day for the last two years (including weekends and holidays). Traffic has steadily grown, and recently, users have posted closer to 30 questions per day.

There are now 4399 registered users, 388 of whom have earned over 100 Karma, and 60 of whom have amassed 1000 Karma!

@lorenz @tfoote @dornhege and @joq deserve special recognition as each of them has earned over 10,000 Karma. Accumulating a Karma stash of this size requires such actions as their answers being upvoted one thousand times.

Congratulations to the community for making the site the thriving resource that it is today. Keep up the fantastic work, and keep the questions--and answers--coming.

Package Release: BRIDE release 0.1.2

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From Alexander Bubeck of Fraunhofer IPA via ROS Users

Dear ROS-community,


I want to announce the 0.1.2 version of BRIDE that is now in a state that it can be used by ros-developers and I'm looking forward for feedback.


BRIDE is a model driven engineering tool chain based on Eclipse. It is developed as part of the BRICS project.


In manually created ROS components, ROS-specific code parts are usually mixed with the framework-independent algorithmic core of a component. In contrast, BRIDE allows for a clear separation of framework-independent and framework-specific code: Component interfaces and behaviors are modeled in an abstract representation. This representation can then be used to auto-generate source code for different middleware and programming language targets.


You can find more information on the installation as well as tutorials on the corresponding roswiki pages at .


If you are interested in the BRICS concepts, the BRICS project or want to try out the OROCOS targeting of BRIDE please visit .


Best regards,


Alexander Bubeck

New Package: ccny_rgbd: Minecraft edition

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From Ivan Dryanovski of CCNY on ros-users@

Hi everyone,

We recently added another tool to our collection: 2schematic. It lets
users conver colored PointCloud (.pcd) or Octomap (.ot) files to
Minecraft schematic files. In conjuntion with ccny_rgbd,or any other
3D mapping application, this enables you to import indoor enviroments
into Minecraft (and destroy them).

Here's a video:

The code is on github:

It supports several different coloring models, and simple color
filter. The output is .schematic files, which you can then view or
edit inside mcedit, and export to Minecraft worlds.

I hope you enjoy our contribution!



PS. I saw yesterday that Jon Stephan independently released a very
similar package. Great work - I look forward to checking it out! The
3D mapping research appears to be converging to its inevitable

New Package: minecraft-ros

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From Jon Stefan on ros-users@

I am pleased to announce a new package: minecraft-ros.  It consists of 2 utilities to convert ROS maps and octomaps to Minecraft worlds.

The files and instructions can be found here:

The script will convert a 2D .pgm map file into a minecraft world. The world file is copied into the ~/.minecraft/saves folder.


The octomap_2_minecraft script, along with the octomap_dump program will convert an octomap into a Minecraft map.


Both these scripts rely on pymclevel.  A chunk of the octomap conversion code is borrowed from Nathan Viniconis' Kinect conversion code.


New Package: libfreenect based Kinect driver

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From Piyush via ROS Users

Hey folks,

After some initial discussion on the ROS mailing list [1], a
libfreenect (OpenKinect) based Kinect driver for ROS has been released
for Fuerte (freenect_stack) [2]. A system install for the stack is now
available. The stack is designed to have the same API as the OpenNI
one, and there is an easy migration guide [3]

The stack has the the following known limitations:
1) It only supports the Kinect [4]
2) It does not support USB 3.0 [5]. In contrast, OpenNI with a bit of
work can be made to work with USB 3.0 [6][7].

I'll continue to maintain the stack. My first priority will be to
include USB 3.0 compatibility, which is something I will work on as
time permits. Almost all high-end laptops these days only have USB 3.0

If you are facing problems with the stack, please report them on the
corresponding bug report page [8].



Hydro Fork Update

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From ros-users@

Hi Everyone,

This email is to give an update on the ROS Hydro development.

In perparation for Hydro there has been lots of activity preparing the infrastructure for the new release [1].  There also has been significant patch releases for Groovy happening  [4].  Two major requirements for the Hydro fork were the upgrades to bloom and the development of a REP for 3rdparty package releases which are being finished up [5] [6].

= Updated Hydro Schedule =

As we are now ready to fork the rosdisto for Hydro development we need to review the Hydro development cycle.  We will not be able to catch up to the standard release cycle.

New Schedule Goals:

- March 5th: Hydro Fork
- April   2nd: Hydro Alpha
    The first version of all packages are released into Hydro.
- April  25th: Hydro Beta
    All major changes have been completed for stable packages.  
- May  22nd: Hydro Medusa Release

This means that in the next 4 weeks we hope that all released packages can be released into Hydro to form the Alpha Release on April 2nd.  There will be 3 more weeks for upgrades before the Beta release on April 25th.

If you are a maintainer please watch for when it will be appropriate to make your first release into Hydro.

= Ongoing REPs =

Already there has been quite a bit of activity developing REPs for the Hydro cycle with discussions ongoing for REPs in ros-users, ros-sig-drivers, and ros-sig-buildsystem and the pull requests in the rep repository [3].   I encourage everyone to watch for REP discussions and consider joining them.  

The REPs under review can be found at these locations:
- 132 Incorporation of Changelogs into Package Source Tree
- 133 Separation of build environment and source tree tools
- 134 catkin_make_isolated for non-standard catkin packages
- 135 Driver Namespace Practices
- 136 Releasing Third Party, Non catkin Packages
- 137 ROS distribution files
- 138 LaserScan Common Topics, Parameters, and Diagnostic Keys
They all have pull requests pointing to their discussions at [3].

= Outstanding Issues =

One major change in Ubuntu which will effect Hydro is that In Raring Ringtail (13.04) Ubuntu will switch to use Python 3 by default.  This will require a large audit of the Python codebase to test for compatability.  There's an issue open to keep track of this at the rosdistro level [7].  We plan to follow Ubuntu's recommendation which is to make scripts Python 2.7+ and Python 3.3+ compatible.  For more information on what is required see the Ubuntu Python 3 wiki page [8].

= Maintainer Status =

One of the initiatives we plan for Hydro is to keep more up to date maintainer information for packages.  This is covered in draft REP 137 [2].   There are a large number of released packages which over time the original authors have moved to new situations where they do not have the ability to maintain their packages.   Historically many of these packages were picked up and carried forward by a few individuals.  However this approach is not sustainable.  

To keep the quality of ROS packages as high as possible we will be looking for new maintainers to distribute the burdon throughout the community. We will ask that all packages released into Hydro have clear maintenance status.  

New Package: RCommander

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From Hai Nguyen of the Healthcare Robotics Lab @ Georgia Tech on ROS Users

Hello ROS community,

I would like to announce the result of our work here at Georgia Tech
in collaboration with Willow.  This is the first release of RCommander
(version 0.5), a visual framework for easy construction of SMACH state
machines allowing users to interactively construct, tweak, execute,
load and save state machines.  There are two stacks.  The
rcommander_pr2 stack contains an implementation with basic states for
controlling the PR2 robot.  rcommander_core contains the framework's
essentials allowing the construction of custom RCommander interfaces
for robots other than the PR2.  The wiki doc links below also has a
few tutorials for getting started with either rcommander_pr2 or

 for indexer:

 for indexer:

Just some notes: I've tested this on ROS Electric and have not done
much with Fuerte yet but it will be supported soon.  The wiki docs
point to an older Mercurial repository, it should point to the newer
git repository when the Ros indexer gets updated.

Call For Participation: ROSCon 2013

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Call For Participation: ROSCon 2013
11-12 May 2013 (immediately following ICRA)
Stuttgart, Germany

* Preliminary program is available:
* Registration is open: (early
registration deadline: 31 March)
* Thank you to our sponsors:

Please join us this May for the second annual edition of ROSCon!

ROSCon 2013 is a chance for ROS developers of all levels, beginner to
expert, to spend an extraordinary weekend learning from and networking
with the ROS community.  Get tips and tricks from experts and meet and
share ideas with fellow developers from around the globe.

ROSCon is a developers' conference, in the model of PyCon and
BoostCon. Following the success of the inaugural ROSCon in St. Paul,
Minnesota (, this year's ROSCon will be
held in Germany.  Similar to last year, the two-day program will
comprise technical talks and tutorials that will introduce you to new
tools and libraries, as well as teach you more about the ones you
already know.

Once again we received an overwhelming number of session proposals,
which made for some tough decisions in the review process.  The 35
talks in the program include in-depth coverage of core libraries, like
Octomap and RQT, multiple perspectives on timely topics like embedded
systems and real-time control, and plenty of novel applications of
ROS.  And we an excellent keynote on MoveIt!, from Sachin Chitta of
Willow Garage.

We have some great sponsors to thank: Bosch, Clearpath Robotics,
Cyberbotics, Google, I Heart Engineering, Rethink Robotics, Schunk,
Yaskawa Motoman, Yujin Robot, and Willow Garage.  We're excited to
have such strong industry support!

Registration is now open:

If you have any questions, send email to

Announcing MORSE 1.0

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Dear ROS community,

After 4 years of worldwide development by over 20 people in 10 different labs, we are extremely excited to announce the immediate availability of MORSE-1.0, a novel versatile simulator for academic robotics, with full ROS support.

Amongst the prominent features:

  * Versatile 3D simulator for mobile robots simulation (single or multi robots),

  * Realistic ('modern' OpenGL) and dynamic environments (interaction with other agents like humans or objects),

  * Based on well known and widely adopted open source projects (Blender for real-time 3D rendering, Bullet for physics simulation, dedicated robotic middlewares for communications),

  * Command-line oriented (with optional scene editing in Blender), entirely scriptable in Python,

  * Adaptable to various level of simulation abstraction (e.g. simulate cameras as video-streams, depth-streams or semantic maps depending on your needs),

  * > 20 classes of sensors (including depth sensors, cameras, IMU, laser scanners...), > 15 classes of actuators (including kinematic chains, quadrirotor control, force control...) are available. Detailed documentation explain how to add new ones (in C or Python),

  * Currently supports ROS, YARP, MOOS and Pocolibs + direct socket interface

  * Extensive documentation, available here:

And as a collaborative academic project, the source code is available under a permissive BSD license. Grab your copy from !

Last but not least, Michael and Pierrick will be present at ROSCon in May to present the project. Feel free to pop-up to meet the team!

Find this blog and more at

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