On this page I will distill my insights from taking robot lab, so that you might be able to much more quickly make your way to where I am now in terms of understanding robotics simulation. While taking robot lab I focused entirely on the simulation side of the subject.Robotics Simulators can be sepereted into two groups based on their software licence. Currently the most developed and widely used open source simulator is player/stage/gazebo.indeed in general the player/stage/gazebo software package is considered by many to be the most widely used robotics simulation software on the market. While there are other simulators available few compare.
Summary of work
I spent the first three or four weeks trying to install player, stage, and gazebo as well as looking at some of the other options available to students for simulation of robotics. Once I installed and learned to use ROS i found that it was not necessary to install player, stage, and gazebo if your going to use ros because ros will do the work for you. After I had gazebo working with ros i spent two weeks working on learning urdf to make a simulated robot and then learning xacro to make it easier to alter and add to that simulated robot. After that I spent a week trying to learn how to control a robot in gazebo through ros but my efforts did not find any results so i began learning how to do so through player. As a result of that I learned how to define a world in stage. My last task was to learn to use player to control robots.
Before you can even consider installing player/stage/gazebo, you need to install ubuntu. whether it be with or without ros, at this point it is very unlikely that you will be able to get it to work on any other operating system other than ubuntu. Luckly for you even if you have a computer running windows or mac os x, you can have a virtulization of ubuntu which will be good enough provided you are not using gazebo.
Follow the following directions to install ubuntu on a virtual machine.
- download and install the most recent version of virtual box
- Now you need to download ubuntu
- Next you need to launch virtual box and choose new to make a new virtual machine. follow the wizard as it has you set up the virtual machine. I suggest that when it is time to choose a hard drive make it dynamically allocated, as it will only gain size as it grows larger and you should give it at least 8 gb but I would suggest 20 as a perfect amount.
- After hitting create you will see a new vertual machine with the name you gave it under the new/settings/start buttons. Before you can start the machine and install ubuntu you need to have a disk available with ubuntu on it. If you are able to mount the disk without burning it then do so now. Otherwise you will need to burn it to a dvd or flash drive. After this is done and you have booted the disk, click on your virtual machine and either press the start button. Now you will see the first run wizard. You will need to choose the disk with the version of ubuntu you downloaded and press continue.
If you are going to use stage or gazebo you must first install player. Player is essentially software which allows your computer to communicate with your robot, interoperate its sensor output, and give it commands to move. When used with stage or gazebo it allows you to
- install player in ros
- install stage in ros
- install gazebo in ros
- for Stage
- for Gazebo
- building robots with URDF
- building robots with XACRO
Player, stage, gazebo Section
Installing Player/stage/gazebo standalone
Installing Player/Stage/gazebo with ros
Defining a robot
Programing a Robot for use with Player
Other simulators to look at
In this section I will talk briefly about three other simulators I was able to look at.