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ROS 101: A practical example

February 5, 2014

ROS101_ClearpathIn the previous ROS 101 post, we provided a quick introduction to ROS to answer questions like What is ROS? and How do I get started? Now that you understand the basics, here’s how they can apply to a practical example. Follow along to see how we actually ‘do’ all of these things …

First, you will need to run Ubuntu, and have ROS installed on it. For your convenience, you can download our easy-to-use image here:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/CPR_PUBLIC/LEARN_ROS/Learn_ROS-disk1.vmdk
https://s3.amazonaws.com/CPR_PUBLIC/LEARN_ROS/Learn_ROS.ovf

Login (username): user
Password: learn

Get VMWare Player, and use the virtual disk above. If you don’t want to use the provided image, follow the tutorial here (after installing Ubuntu 12.04):

http://wiki.ros.org/hydro/Installation/Ubuntu

Throughout the rest of the tutorials, we will be referencing the ROS cheatsheet available here.

Open a new Terminal Window (Ctrl + Alt + T).
In the new terminal, type roscore (And press enter).
This should produce something similar to the below.

ROSpic1

ROS Figure 1

What you have just done is started the ROS Master as we described above. We can now experiment with some ROS commands.
Open a new Terminal, and type in rostopic. This will give you a list of all the options that the rostopic command can do. For now, we are interested in rostopic list
Type in rostopic list. (And press enter). This should give you a window like the following:

rospic2

ROS Figure 2

The two entries listed above are ROS’s built in way of reporting and aggregating debug messages in the system. What we want to do is publish and subscribe to a message.
You can open a new Terminal again, or open a new tab on the same terminal window (Ctrl + Shift + T).
In the new Terminal, type in: rostopic pub /hello std_msgs/String “Hello Robot”

ROSpic3

ROS Figure 3

Let’s break down the parts of that command.
rostopic pub – This commands ROS to publish a new topic.
/hello – This is the name of the new topic. (Can be whatever you want)
std_msgs/String – This is the topic type. We want to publish a string topic. In our overview examples above, it was an image data type.
“Hello Robot” – This is the actual data contained by the topic. I.E. the message itself.
Going back to the previous Terminal, we can execute rostopic list again.
We now have a new topic listed! We can also echo the topic to see the message. rostopic echo /hello

rospic4

ROS Figure 4

We have now successfully published a topic with a message, and received that message.
Type Ctrl + C to stop echoing the /hello topic.
We can also look into the node that is publishing the message. Type in rosnode list. You will get a list similar to the one below. (The exact numbers beside the rostopic node may be different)

rospic5

ROS Figure 5

Because we asked rostopic to publish the /hello topic for us, ROS went ahead and created a node to do so. We can look into details of by typing rosnode info /rostopic_…..(whatever numbers)
TIP: In ROS, and in Linux in general, whenever you start typing something, you can press the Tab key to auto-complete it. If there is more than one entry, double tap Tab to get the list. In the above example, all I typed was rosnode info /rost(TAB)

rospic6

ROS Figure 6

We can get info on our topic the same way, by typing rostopic info /hello.

rospic7

ROS Figure 7

You will notice that the node listed under “Publishers:” is the same node we requested info about.

Up till now, we have covered the fundamentals of ROS, how to use rostopic, rosnode.

Next time, we will compile a short example program, and try it out.

 

See all the ROS101 tutorials here. If you liked this article, you may also be interested in:

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