September 2014 Archives

ROS Vagrant base boxes

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From Mark Pitchless of Shadowrobot via ros-users@

Hello All,

I'm very pleased to announce a set of vagrant virtual box base boxes, we have been working on at shadow robot, are now available on the cloud for public consumption.

You need vagrant 1.5+ to use these. On trusty bring up a new ros machine like so:

apt-get install vagrant
mkdir indigovm
cd indigovm
vagrant init shadowrobot/ros-indigo-desktop-trusty64
vagrant up

After a bit a logged in desktop will appear, just open a terminal, roscore and away you go.

Currently we have Hydro and Indigo machines in 32bit and 64bit variants.

These are built using vagrant and ansible as part of our build tools project (more on this next week).
Feel free to log issues, ideas there or post here.

Collaboration welcome especially creating bases for other providers.

Have fun,

New Package: diff_drive_controller in ros_controllers

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From Bence Magyar of PAL Robotics via ros-users@

Hi everyone,

PAL Robotics is pleased to announce the release of the diff_drive_controller that became available in Hydro and Indigo in the first quarter of 2014.

For those who already know it, I'd like to ask you to add your robot(s) to the wiki page with a moderately sized image and name:

For those who are new to it,
For documentation refer to:

As the name suggests, this controller moves a differential drive wheel base. 
  • The controller takes geometry_msgs::Twist messages as input.
  • Realtime-safe implementation.

  • Odometry computed and published from open or closed loop
  • Task-space velocity and acceleration limits
  • Automatic stop after command time-out
The controller will soon support skid steer platforms as well. 

SV-ROS's team Maxed-Out earns the highest score at IROS 2014 in the first Microsoft Kinect Challenge.

The Microsoft Kinect Challenge is a showcase of BRIN (Benchmark Indoor Robot Navigation), a scoring software that was used to score the competition. Each team had to create a mapping and autonomous navigation software solution that would successfully run on a provided Adept Pioneer 3DX robot

The number of way points achieved, time and accuracy are combined in determining a contestant's score. Microsoft Research's Gershon Parent, the author of the BRIN scoring software hopes to see BRIN as a universally accepted way of benchmarking autonomous robots' indoor navigation ability. 

SV-ROS is a Silicon Valley ROS users group that meets on the second to last Wednesday each month at the HackerDojo in Mountain View, CA. Team Maxed-Out is led by Greg Maxwell; key team members are Girts Linde, Ralph Gnauck, Steve Okay, and Patrick Goebel. The Maxed-Out effort began in May 2014 and was able to successfully create a winning ROS mapping localization and navigation solution in a few months, beating 5 other international teams. 

Maxed-Out's winning software solution was based on the ROS Hydro distribution on a powerful GPU enabled laptop running Ubuntu 12.04 and Nvidia Cuda 6.0 8 GPU parallel processing software. The team was able to out score all the other teams by incorporating the Rtabmap mapping, localization, navigation and new Point Cloud solution library that is the effort of Mathieu Labbe, a graduate student at the Université de Sherbrooke.

Team Maxed-Out's code is up at SV-ROS's Github repository and documented on this meetup page.

Pictures of the event are posted here

New package: Augmented Reality System

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From Hamdi Sahloul via ros-users@

Hi everyone!

I have been recently through a need for a reliable pose estimation system, in which ar_pose ( failed to stratify my needs as it depends on the very basic ARToolKit old library.
Moreover, I found aruco_ros ( as a good package to begin with, but it was only using a single marker, or double markers. It does not have a visualization system as well.

So, I made my package..
In order to avoid occlusions, I used marker boards (you still have the ability to use a 1x1 marker board), and now it could detect virtually unlimited boards with a very good accuracy.
Nonetheless, it is able to handle many cameras at once, and finally display the result in the rviz (

I would love if you discover things further yourself, so here is the link:

It would only cost you a camera and couple of papers to try, therefore, kindly be asked to try it and let me please know your impression and feedback which is highly appreciated!

ROSCon 2014 comes to a close

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Crossposted from

Thanks to everyone for another fantastic ROSCon! It was a fun event, filled with great presentations and discussions, plus many of those, "we've Internet-known each other for years, but are now meeting for the first time," moments. We'll post the videos and slides as soon as we can, linking them from the program page.

Here's the group at the end of the event (thanks to Chad Rockey for being our photographer):

And here's one way to break down the demographics of the attendees, based on their type of affiliation:

We'd like to thank our generous sponsors, especially: QualcommClearpath Robotics,Rethink Robotics, and Cruise Automation.

Microsoft Kinect v2 Driver Released

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From Thiemo and Alexis via ros-users@

Dear ROS Community,

I am Thiemo from the Institute for Artificial Intelligence at the University of Bremen. I am currently a PhD Student under the supervision of Prof. Michael Beetz. I'm writing this together with Alexis Maldonado, another PhD Student at our lab, who has helped mainly with the hardware aspects.

In the past few months I developed a toolkit for the Kinect v2 including: a ROS interface to the device (driver) using libfreenect2, an intrinsics/extrinsics calibration tool, an improved depth registration method using OpenCL, a lightweight pointcloud/images viewer based on the PCL visualizer and OpenCV.

The system has been developed for and tested in both ROS Hydro and Indigo (Ubuntu 12.04 and 14.04)

The driver has been improved to reach high performance, meaning to be able to process the sensor's information at full framerate (30Hz) on acceptable hardware (not only high-end machines). This was achieved through parallelization of the image pipeline. Care has also been taken to be able to transfer the complete data over compressed topics to other PCs (30Hz data uses approx. 40Mbytes/s on the network).

Specially interesting for other people with a PR2 robot: we have built a small mITX computer using an AMD A10-7850K processor, and a PicoPSU. It is installed as a backpack on our PR2, and a Kinect v2 on the head above the cameras. This 'backpack-PC' is necessary because the built-in computers on the PR2 don't support USB3 and they are quite loaded with their normal workload.

We are glad to announce the release of the software for ROS community, hoping it will be useful for others, specially people working in robotics research. Please see the following GitHub repository:

You will need a slightly patched version of libfreenect2, as indicated on the README. It is here:

Screenshots are also on the GitHub page.

We are looking forward to improvements and/or bug reports. Please use the GitHub tools for that.

Best regards,

Thiemo and Alexis

Institute for Artificial Intelligence
University of Bremen

ROSCon 2014 is coming fast!

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We're looking forward this weekend to another great ROS event!

This will be the third ROSCon. To get into the mood take a look through the old sites for 2012 and 2013. They include links to the old programs as well as video recordings of the presentations available for viewing. 

This year we have a great program with 19 reviewed presentations on the use of ROS in environments ranging from deep mines to low earth orbit. 

As you prepare please think about topics for lightning talks or birds of a feather discussions. Everyone will have an opportunity to pitch both at the conference. For lightning talks you can prepare a few slides but don't try to do things which are too fancy. 

We look forward to seeing you there. There will be some construction on the Blue Line which may make travel from the airport a little harder. We have posted detail on the website

If you're attending you can add photos to the Google+ Event, or if you can't make it but want to see what's going on watch the event as well as hashtags #ROSCon2014 or #ROSCon

We'd like to thank our generous sponsors, especially: Qualcomm, Clearpath Robotics, Rethink Robotics, and Cruise Automation.

New ROS package available for the Barrett Hand

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From Román Navarro García via ros-users@

Hi Everyone,

We're pleased to announce a new package for the Barrett Hand BH8-28X

This package allows the control of the hand either in velocity or position, and reading the current state of the joints and the sensors (fingertip torque and tactile sensors).

The software includes packages with the model description and a graphical interface (rqt) to interact with the hand.

Links: -> Technical description -> ROS package description 

Groovy and Hydro are currently supported, Indigo soon.

If you are interested in verifying all these features of the hand, you can visit us from 14th until 18th of September in booth nº303 at IROS 2014.

Best regards,

Virtual machines with ROS Indigo pre-installed

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From Nootrix via ros-users@

Hi there,

Just wanted to let you know that we have issued two virtual machines with ROS Indigo Igloo pre-installed: one 64 bits and the other 32bits.


2014 ROS Metrics Report Available

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The 2014 edition of the ROS Metrics Report is now posted at:

This is the 4th version of the ROS Metrics report. All are versions are available at: 

The ROS community has grown in almost every metric. The one exception is that the number of wiki pages has dropped. This is due to a concerted cleanup effort earlier this year which removed a lot of empty pages with little to no content. 

The other metric which warrants note is the large growth in the number of unique IPs per month, up to 49,153 from last years sampling of 11,078.  And the total downloads of packages more than doubled to 3,570,374 downloads. 

And all of these numbers do not count the any statistics for mirrors either private or public

If you have a moment we recommend you take a look. There are many interesting statistics such as ROS users by country and the top 40 most downloaded packages. 

Related to this look for more information on the ROS ecosystem from William Curran's talk next week at ROSCon 2014.  Event Program

ROS running on ISS

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We have an update from NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC): ROS is now up and running on Robonaut 2 (R2) aboard the International Space Station (ISS).


ROS was delivered to ISS aboard a SpaceX rocket as part of a recent resupply mission that also included a set of robotic legs that will be attached to R2 soon.

NASA was able to upgrade the R2 torso earlier this month after on-orbit surgery to remove old processors and electronics and install new ones. On August 12, R2 powered up using ROS for the first time.

As we mentioned in a prior post, the R2 team at JSC has been using ROS for R2 development on Earth for the last couple of years. They combine ROS with OROCOS RTT to produce a flexible development environment with real-time capabilities.

Allison Thackston and Julia Badger from the R2 team will be addressing the audience at ROSCon on the unique challenges of deploying software in space systems. Their presentation, "ROS in Space," will open the second day of the conference. ROSCon takes place on September 12 and 13 in Chicago, IL. For more information and registration details, visit the ROSCon website.


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