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Add, Build, and Remove Objects in Gazebo


This example explores more in-depth interaction with the Gazebo® Simulator from MATLAB®. Topics include creating simple models, adding links and joints to models, connecting models together, and applying forces to bodies.

Prerequisites: Get Started with Gazebo and a Simulated TurtleBot, Read Model and Simulation Properties from Gazebo

Connect to Gazebo®

  • On your Linux® machine, start Gazebo. If you are using the virtual machine from Get Started with Gazebo and a Simulated TurtleBot, use the Gazebo Empty world.

  • Initialize ROS by replacing the sample IP address ( with the IP address of the virtual machine. Create an instance of the ExampleHelperGazeboCommunicator class.

ipaddress = ''
gazebo = ExampleHelperGazeboCommunicator();

Spawn a Simple Sphere

  • To create a model, use the ExampleHelperGazeboModel class. In the following code, a ball is created. Define properties (using addLink) and spawn the ball using the spawnModel function.

ball = ExampleHelperGazeboModel('Ball')
spherelink = addLink(ball,'sphere',1,'color',[0 0 1 1])


Your output from these commands should look similar to this:

All units for Gazebo commands are specified in SI units. Depending on your view, you might have to zoom out to see the ball, because it is placed at [8.5, 0, 1]. Here is an image of the scene:

Build and Spawn Bowling Pins

  • Create vectors x and y for the location of the bowling pins (in meters).

x = [1.5    1.5    1.5   1.5   2.5     2.5  2.5    3.5    3.5   4.5];
y = [-1.5  -0.5    0.5   1.5   -1      0    1     -0.5    0.5   0];
  • Define a basic model for the bowling pin using the ExampleHelperGazeboModel object. Use addLink to create the cylinder and the ball.

pin = ExampleHelperGazeboModel('BowlPin');

link1 = addLink(pin,'cylinder',[1 0.2],'position',[0,0,0.5])
link2 = addLink(pin,'sphere',0.2,'position',[0,0, 1.2],'color',[0.7 0 0.2 1])

The output of addLink produces a variable containing the assigned name of the link. These variables create the joint.

  • Use addJoint to define the relationship between the two links. In this case they are attached together by a revolute joint.

joint = addJoint(pin,link1,link2,'revolute',[0 0],[0 0 1])

The arguments of the addJoint function are object, parent, child, type, limits, and axis.

  • After defining bowlPin once, You can create all ten bowling pins from the preceding ExampleHelperGazeboModel. The following for loop spawns the models in Gazebo using the x and y vectors.

for i = 1:10

After adding the pins to the world, it looks like this figure:

Remove Models

  • If the TurtleBot® exists in the scene, remove it. Look in the list of models. Remove the one named mobile_base.

if ismember('mobile_base',getSpawnedModels(gazebo))

Spawn Built-In Models

  • Create a ExampleHelperGazeboModel for a Jersey barrier. The object finds this model on the Gazebo website.

barrier = ExampleHelperGazeboModel('jersey_barrier','gazeboDB');
  • Spawn two Jersey barriers in the world using spawnModel

spawnModel(gazebo,barrier,[1.5,-3,0]); % Right barrier
spawnModel(gazebo,barrier,[1.5,3,0]); % Left barrier

Note: You need an Internet connection to spawn models that are not included in these examples. However, if you have previously spawned a model in your Gazebo simulation, it is cached, so you can spawn it later without an Internet connection.

The image looks like this figure:

Apply Forces to the Ball

  • Retrieve the handle to the ball through the ExampleHelperGazeboSpawnedModel class.

spawnedBall = ExampleHelperGazeboSpawnedModel(ball.Name,gazebo)
  • Define parameters for the application of force. Here the duration is set to one second and the force vector is set to -75 Newtons in the x direction.

duration = 1; % Seconds
forcevec = [-75 0 0]; % Newtons
  • Apply the force to the model using the applyForce function

applyForce(spawnedBall, spherelink, duration, forcevec);

Following are images of the collision and the aftermath

Remove Models and Shut Down

  • To clean up, delete the models created for this example.

  • It is good practice to clear the workspace of publishers, subscribers, and other ROS-related objects when you are finished with them

  • It is recommended to use rosshutdown once you are done working with the ROS network. Shut down the global node and disconnect from Gazebo.

  • When you are finished, close the Gazebo window on your virtual machine.

Next Steps

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