Book Image

Learning ROS for Robotics Programming Second Edition

Book Image

Learning ROS for Robotics Programming Second Edition

Overview of this book

Table of Contents (27 chapters)
Learning ROS for Robotics Programming Second Edition
About the Author
About the Author
About the Author
About the Author
About the Reviewer
About the Reviewer
About the Reviewers


Learning ROS for Robotics Programming, Second Edition gives you a comprehensive review of ROS tools. ROS is the Robot Operating System framework, which is used nowadays by hundreds of research groups and companies in the robotics industry. But it is also the painless entry point to robotics for nonprofessional people. You will see how to install ROS, you will start playing with its basic tools, and you will end up working with state-of-the-art computer vision and navigation tools.

The content of the book can be followed without any special devices, and each chapter comes with a series of source code examples and tutorials that you can run on your own computer. This is the only thing you need to follow in the book.

However, we also show you how to work with hardware so that you can connect your algorithms with the real world. Special care has been taken in choosing devices that are affordable for amateur users, but at the same time, the most typical sensors or actuators in robotics research are covered.

Finally, the potential of ROS is illustrated with the ability to work with whole robots in a simulated environment. You will learn how to create your own robot and integrate it with the powerful navigation stack. Moreover, you will be able to run everything in simulation by using the Gazebo simulator. We will end the book by providing an example of how to use the Move it! package to perform manipulation tasks with robotic arms. At the end of the book, you will see that you can work directly with a ROS robot and understand what is going on under the hood.

What this book covers

Chapter 1, Getting Started with ROS Hydro, shows the easiest way you must follow in order to have a working installation of ROS. You will see how to install ROS on different platforms, and you will use ROS Hydro throughout the rest of the book. This chapter describes how to make an installation from Debian packages, compile the sources and make installations in virtual machines and ARM CPU.

Chapter 2, ROS Architecture and Concepts, is concerned with the concepts and tools provided by the ROS framework. We will introduce you to nodes, topics, and services, and you will also learn how to use them. Through a series of examples, we will illustrate how to debug a node and visualize the messages published through a topic.

Chapter 3, Visualization and Debug Tools, goes a step further in order to show you powerful tools to debug your nodes and visualize the information that goes through the node's graph along with the topics. ROS provides a logging API that allows you to diagnose node problems easily. In fact, we will see some powerful graphical tools, such as rqt_console and rqt_graph, as well as visualization interfaces, such as rqt_plot and rviz. Finally, this chapter explains how to record and play back messages using rosbag and rqt_bag.

Chapter 4, Using Sensors and Actuators with ROS, literally connects ROS with the real world. This chapter goes through a number of common sensors and actuators that are supported in ROS, such as range lasers, servo motors, cameras, RGB-D sensors, GPS, and much more. Moreover, we explain how to use embedded systems with microcontrollers, similar to the widely known Arduino boards.

Chapter 5, Computer Vision, shows the support for cameras and computer vision tasks in ROS. This chapter starts with drivers available for FireWire and USB cameras so that you can connect them to your computer and capture images. You will then be able to calibrate your camera using the ROS calibration tools. Later, you will be able to use the image pipeline, which is explained in detail. Then, you will see how to use several APIs for vision and integrate OpenCV. Finally, the installation and usage of a visual odometry software is described.

Chapter 6, Point Clouds, in this chapter, we show how to use Point Cloud Library in your ROS nodes. This chapter starts with the basics utilities, such as read or write a PCL snippet and the conversions needed to publish or subscribe to these messages. Then, you will create a pipeline with different nodes to process 3D data, and you will downsample, filter, and search for features using PCL.

Chapter 7, 3D Modeling and Simulation, constitutes one of the first steps in order to implement your own robot in ROS. It shows you how to model a robot from scratch and run it in simulation by using the Gazebo simulator. You will simulate sensors, such as cameras and laser range sensors. This will later allow you to use the whole navigation stack provided by ROS and other tools.

Chapter 8, The Navigation Stack – Robot Setups, is the first of two chapters concerned with the ROS navigation stack. This chapter describes how to configure your robot so that it can be used with the navigation stack. In the same way, the stack is explained, along with several examples.

Chapter 9, The Navigation Stack – Beyond Setups, continues the discussion of the previous chapter by showing how we can effectively make our robot navigate autonomously. It will use the navigation stack intensively for that. This chapter shows the great potential of ROS by using the Gazebo simulator and rviz to create a virtual environment in which we can build a map, localize our robot, and do path planning with obstacle avoidance.

Chapter 10, Manipulation with MoveIt!, is a set of tools for mobile manipulation in ROS. This chapter contains the documentation that you need to install this package. The chapter also contains example demonstrations with robotic arms that use MoveIt! for manipulation tasks, such as grasping, pick and place, or simple motion planning with inverse kinematics.

What you need for this book

This book was written with the intention that almost everybody can follow it and run the source code examples provided with it. Basically, you need a computer with a Linux distribution. Although any Linux distribution should be fine, it is recommended that you use a version of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. Then, you will use ROS Hydro, which is installed according to the instructions given in Chapter 1, Getting Started with ROS Hydro.

For this distribution of ROS, you will need a version of Ubuntu prior to 14.04 because, since this version, Hydro is no longer supported.

As regards the hardware requirements of your computer, in general, any computer or laptop is enough. However, it is advisable to use a dedicated graphics card in order to run the Gazebo simulator. Also, it will be good to have a good number of peripherals so that you can connect several sensors and actuators, including cameras and Arduino boards.

You will also need Git (the git-core Debian package) in order to clone the repository with the source code provided with this book. Similarly, you are expected to have a basic knowledge of the Bash command line, GNU/Linux tools, and some C/C++ programming skills.

Who this book is for

This book is targeted at all robotics developers, from amateurs to professionals. It covers all the aspects involved in a whole robotic system and shows how ROS helps with the task of making a robot really autonomous. Anyone who is learning robotics and has heard about ROS but has never tried it will benefit from this book. Also, ROS beginners will learn advanced concepts and tools of this framework. Indeed, even regular users may learn something new from some particular chapters. Certainly, only the first three chapters are intended for new users; so those who already use ROS can skip these ones and go directly to the rest.


In this book, you will find a number of text styles that distinguish between different kinds of information. Here are some examples of these styles and an explanation of their meaning.

Code words in text, database table names, folder names, filenames, file extensions, pathnames, dummy URLs, user input, and Twitter handles are shown as follows: "The rosdep command-line tool must be installed and initialized before you can use ROS."

A block of code is set as follows:

#include <ros/ros.h>
#include <dynamic_reconfigure/server.h>
#include <chapter2_tutorials/chapter2Config.h>

When we wish to draw your attention to a particular part of a code block, the relevant lines or items are set in bold:

dynamic_reconfigure::Server<chapter2_tutorials::chapter2Config>::CallbackType f;

  f = boost::bind(&callback, _1, _2);

Any command-line input or output is written as follows:

$ sudo apt-get install python-rosdep
$ sudo rosdep init
$ rosdep update

New terms and important words are shown in bold. Words that you see on the screen, for example, in menus or dialog boxes, appear in the text like this: "When it finishes, you can start your virtual machine by clicking on the Start button."


Warnings or important notes appear in a box like this.


Tips and tricks appear like this.

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