navigation Tutorial Memo #1: Basic

Setting up your robot using tf

Transform Configuration


Writing Code

catkin_create_pkg robot_setup_tf roscpp tf geometry_msgs

Broadcasting a Transform

Create src/tf_broadcaster.cpp

#include <ros/ros.h>
#include <tf/transform_broadcaster.h>

int main(int argc, char** argv){
  ros::init(argc, argv, "robot_tf_publisher");
  ros::NodeHandle n;

  ros::Rate r(100);

  tf::TransformBroadcaster broadcaster;

        tf::Transform(tf::Quaternion(0, 0, 0, 1), tf::Vector3(0.1, 0.0, 0.2)),
        ros::Time::now(),"base_link", "base_laser"));

Using a Transform

Create src/tf_listener.cpp

#include <ros/ros.h>
#include <geometry_msgs/PointStamped.h>
#include <tf/transform_listener.h>

void transformPoint(const tf::TransformListener& listener){
  //we'll create a point in the base_laser frame that we'd like to transform to the base_link frame
  geometry_msgs::PointStamped laser_point;
  laser_point.header.frame_id = "base_laser";

  //we'll just use the most recent transform available for our simple example
  laser_point.header.stamp = ros::Time();

  //just an arbitrary point in space
  laser_point.point.x = 1.0;
  laser_point.point.y = 0.2;
  laser_point.point.z = 0.0;

    geometry_msgs::PointStamped base_point;
    listener.transformPoint("base_link", laser_point, base_point);

    ROS_INFO("base_laser: (%.2f, %.2f. %.2f) -----> base_link: (%.2f, %.2f, %.2f) at time %.2f",
        laser_point.point.x, laser_point.point.y, laser_point.point.z,
        base_point.point.x, base_point.point.y, base_point.point.z, base_point.header.stamp.toSec());
  catch(tf::TransformException& ex){
    ROS_ERROR("Received an exception trying to transform a point from \"base_laser\" to \"base_link\": %s", ex.what());

int main(int argc, char** argv){
  ros::init(argc, argv, "robot_tf_listener");
  ros::NodeHandle n;

  tf::TransformListener listener(ros::Duration(10));

  //we'll transform a point once every second
  ros::Timer timer = n.createTimer(ros::Duration(1.0), boost::bind(&transformPoint, boost::ref(listener)));



Building the Code

Append CMakeLists.txt

add_executable(tf_broadcaster src/tf_broadcaster.cpp)
add_executable(tf_listener src/tf_listener.cpp)
target_link_libraries(tf_broadcaster ${catkin_LIBRARIES})
target_link_libraries(tf_listener ${catkin_LIBRARIES})

Running the Code

rosrun robot_setup_tf tf_broadcaster
rosrun robot_setup_tf tf_listener

Publishing Odometry Information over ROS

The nav_msgs/Odometry Message

# This represents an estimate of a position and velocity in free space.  
# The pose in this message should be specified in the coordinate frame given by header.frame_id.
# The twist in this message should be specified in the coordinate frame given by the child_frame_id
Header header
string child_frame_id
geometry_msgs/PoseWithCovariance pose
geometry_msgs/TwistWithCovariance twist

Writing the Code


catkin_creat_pkg odometry_publisher roscpp tf nav_msgs

Create src/odometry_publisher.cpp

#include <ros/ros.h>
#include <tf/transform_broadcaster.h>
#include <nav_msgs/Odometry.h>

int main(int argc, char** argv){
  ros::init(argc, argv, "odometry_publisher");

  ros::NodeHandle n;
  ros::Publisher odom_pub = n.advertise<nav_msgs::Odometry>("odom", 50);
  tf::TransformBroadcaster odom_broadcaster;

  double x = 0.0;
  double y = 0.0;
  double th = 0.0;

  double vx = 0.1;
  double vy = -0.1;
  double vth = 0.1;

  ros::Time current_time, last_time;
  current_time = ros::Time::now();
  last_time = ros::Time::now();

  ros::Rate r(1.0);

    ros::spinOnce();               // check for incoming messages
    current_time = ros::Time::now();

    //compute odometry in a typical way given the velocities of the robot
    double dt = (current_time - last_time).toSec();
    double delta_x = (vx * cos(th) - vy * sin(th)) * dt;
    double delta_y = (vx * sin(th) + vy * cos(th)) * dt;
    double delta_th = vth * dt;

    x += delta_x;
    y += delta_y;
    th += delta_th;

    //since all odometry is 6DOF we'll need a quaternion created from yaw
    geometry_msgs::Quaternion odom_quat = tf::createQuaternionMsgFromYaw(th);

    //first, we'll publish the transform over tf
    geometry_msgs::TransformStamped odom_trans;
    odom_trans.header.stamp = current_time;
    odom_trans.header.frame_id = "odom";
    odom_trans.child_frame_id = "base_link";

    odom_trans.transform.translation.x = x;
    odom_trans.transform.translation.y = y;
    odom_trans.transform.translation.z = 0.0;
    odom_trans.transform.rotation = odom_quat;

    //send the transform

    //next, we'll publish the odometry message over ROS
    nav_msgs::Odometry odom;
    odom.header.stamp = current_time;
    odom.header.frame_id = "odom";

    //set the position
    odom.pose.pose.position.x = x;
    odom.pose.pose.position.y = y;
    odom.pose.pose.position.z = 0.0;
    odom.pose.pose.orientation = odom_quat;

    //set the velocity
    odom.child_frame_id = "base_link";
    odom.twist.twist.linear.x = vx;
    odom.twist.twist.linear.y = vy;
    odom.twist.twist.angular.z = vth;

    //publish the message

    last_time = current_time;

Publishing Sensor Streams Over ROS


catkin_creat_pkg sensor_publishers roscpp sensor_msgs

ROS Message Headers

#Standard metadata for higher-level flow data types
#sequence ID: consecutively increasing ID 
uint32 seq
#Two-integer timestamp that is expressed as:
# * stamp.secs: seconds (stamp_secs) since epoch
# * stamp.nsecs: nanoseconds since stamp_secs
# time-handling sugar is provided by the client library
time stamp
#Frame this data is associated with
# 0: no frame
# 1: global frame
string frame_id

Publishing LaserScans over ROS

The LaserScan Message

# Laser scans angles are measured counter clockwise, with 0 facing forward
# (along the x-axis) of the device frame

Header header
float32 angle_min        # start angle of the scan [rad]
float32 angle_max        # end angle of the scan [rad]
float32 angle_increment  # angular distance between measurements [rad]
float32 time_increment   # time between measurements [seconds]
float32 scan_time        # time between scans [seconds]
float32 range_min        # minimum range value [m]
float32 range_max        # maximum range value [m]
float32[] ranges         # range data [m] (Note: values < range_min or > range_max should be discarded)
float32[] intensities    # intensity data [device-specific units]

Writing Code to Publish a LaserScan Message

Create src/laser_scan_publisher.cpp

#include <ros/ros.h>
#include <sensor_msgs/LaserScan.h>

int main(int argc, char** argv){
  ros::init(argc, argv, "laser_scan_publisher");

  ros::NodeHandle n;
  ros::Publisher scan_pub = n.advertise<sensor_msgs::LaserScan>("scan", 50);

  unsigned int num_readings = 100;
  double laser_frequency = 40;
  double ranges[num_readings];
  double intensities[num_readings];

  int count = 0;
  ros::Rate r(1.0);
    //generate some fake data for our laser scan
    for(unsigned int i = 0; i < num_readings; ++i){
      ranges[i] = count;
      intensities[i] = 100 + count;
    ros::Time scan_time = ros::Time::now();

    //populate the LaserScan message
    sensor_msgs::LaserScan scan;
    scan.header.stamp = scan_time;
    scan.header.frame_id = "laser_frame";
    scan.angle_min = -1.57;
    scan.angle_max = 1.57;
    scan.angle_increment = 3.14 / num_readings;
    scan.time_increment = (1 / laser_frequency) / (num_readings);
    scan.range_min = 0.0;
    scan.range_max = 100.0;

    for(unsigned int i = 0; i < num_readings; ++i){
      scan.ranges[i] = ranges[i];
      scan.intensities[i] = intensities[i];


Publishing PointClouds over ROS

The PointCloud Message

#This message holds a collection of 3d points, plus optional additional information about each point.
#Each Point32 should be interpreted as a 3d point in the frame given in the header

Header header
geometry_msgs/Point32[] points  #Array of 3d points
ChannelFloat32[] channels       #Each channel should have the same number of elements as points array, and the data in each channel should correspond 1:1 with each point

Writing Code to Publish a PointCloud Message

Create src/point_cloud_publisher.cpp

#include <ros/ros.h>
#include <sensor_msgs/PointCloud.h>

int main(int argc, char** argv){
  ros::init(argc, argv, "point_cloud_publisher");

  ros::NodeHandle n;
  ros::Publisher cloud_pub = n.advertise<sensor_msgs::PointCloud>("cloud", 50);

  unsigned int num_points = 100;

  int count = 0;
  ros::Rate r(1.0);
    sensor_msgs::PointCloud cloud;
    cloud.header.stamp = ros::Time::now();
    cloud.header.frame_id = "sensor_frame";


    //we'll also add an intensity channel to the cloud
    cloud.channels[0].name = "intensities";

    //generate some fake data for our point cloud
    for(unsigned int i = 0; i < num_points; ++i){
      cloud.points[i].x = 1 + count;
      cloud.points[i].y = 2 + count;
      cloud.points[i].z = 3 + count;
      cloud.channels[0].values[i] = 100 + count;



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