IBM on Open Source Robotics Simulations

Posted 7 Sep 2006 at 22:04 UTC by steve Share This

A new IBM DeveloperWorks article by M. Tim Jones gives a handy overview of robotics simulation software. The article describes the Open Dynamics Engine, a Free Software library that models articulated rigid-body dynamics. Descriptions of several robotics simulation toolkits with Free Software, Open Source, and other, more restrictive licenses are also provided. Jones also describes the closed feedback loop formed between a robot and the environment. He proposes that simulation software can lower the cost of robot development. Simulators are undoubtly fun to play with but it's good to remember Brooks' observation that "It's easier to build something in the real world than to make a really good simulation of the real world."

Simulations, posted 8 Sep 2006 at 04:12 UTC by marcin » (Journeyer)

One of the fun things about robots vs computers, is that with robots you have something real and 3-dimensional that meanders around at the end of the day. I think you lose some of that fun if you spend all your time in simulation. Of course, if your robot is meant to do life- critical work such as tele-medicine, search and rescue, or (especially) launching missiles, then maybe some time in a simulator would be a good idea.

Experimental environments vs. testing & porting, posted 12 Sep 2006 at 14:15 UTC by reed » (Apprentice)

The article is a very brief overview. It unfortunately did not discuss simulators that provided their own unique programming API, vs. simulators that were drop-in replacements for robots using the same API as would be used for a real robot (which allow you to use the simulator for debugging, then use the same exact program on the real robot). Gazebo, briefly mentioned in the article, is one such simulator (since it can be plugged in to Player, which also controls many kinds of robots and other devices). It did not mention Stage, which is a 2D counterpart to Gazebo that also uses Player. Stage's core simulation library can also be used directly.

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