[ros-users] using ROS with a new 7-DOF arm hardware

Gil Jones gjones at willowgarage.com
Mon Jun 13 18:59:20 UTC 2011

Hi Patrick,

We are currently actively (as in right this second) developing a tool
chain that assists users in configuring and building applications for
arm navigation on novel platforms.  We're aiming to have all of this
working reliably and in a documented fashion in time for the release
of e-turtle later this summer.  In the meantime, if you are interested
in being an alpha tester of this functionality I can send you a
rosinstall file and tell you a bit about how the tool chain works -
this should definitely be the fastest way to go from a urdf to solving
kinematics and generating collision-free trajectories for your arm
using our software.  This is with the usual caveats that things aren't
quite ready for prime-time.

To use this new functionality you'll need a urdf and your own
joint_trajectory_action, but all the intermediate configuration and
launch file generation should be done for you.  This also doesn't help
configure any of our manipulation stacks - those will not be released
at 1.0 in e-turtle.

All the documentation, etc will be cleaned up in conjunction with the
e-turtle release, and now that we're taking the plunge towards a 1.0
release of major parts of the system things should be substantially
more stable as of e-turtle.


E. Gil Jones (gjones at willowgarage.com)
Research Engineer
Willow Garage, Inc.
68 Willow Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025

On Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 11:36 AM, Patrick Beeson <beeson.p at gmail.com> wrote:
> I'm attempting to try and utilize novel, custom-made 7-DOF modular arm
> hardware with ROS, and I'd like any help people are willing to provide
> in starting from scratch with getting a new arm working in ROS.  I
> have lots of familiarity with ROS, writing ROS drivers for perception
> and navigation hardware, but, I'm not a manipulation or kinematics
> expert, and I'm having difficulties understanding exactly what I do
> and do not need to implement on my end to use the move_arm high level
> package.
> Having previously used the navigation stack, and other such stacks,  I
> assumed that I would need some sort of driver that would subscribe to
> some topic that would send joint positions or velocities based on
> higher level kinematics planning given URDF models of the joints.
> Instead, what I found was this tutorial:
> http://www.ros.org/wiki/arm_navigation/Tutorials/Running%20arm%20navigation%20on%20non-PR2%20arm,
> which seems to imply the need for writing my own kinematics plugin in
> addition to my own joint trajectory execution node.  I can certainly
> do this given some time; however, previous emails implied a
> generic_kinematics package in unstable that would be useful, but after
> searching through the Subversion repository, a generic_kinematics
> package does not exist anywhere.
> So, I'm going to start my creating a joint_trajectory_execution node
> that has a a joint_trajectory_action interface and does soft-realtime
> control of my joints behind the scenes.  What I need help determining
> is if/where any generic kinematics packages exist or if I need to
> write my own for my arm.  If I need to write my own, more details on
> how to get this working with the other relevant modules would be
> useful.  If a generic package exists, where is it?  How do I feed it
> the model of my arm?  Also (tutorial step 5) there are lots of other
> bits and pieces lying around that need to get tied together that
> aren't well documented.  All in all, what I need is a better tutorial
> that gives a much more simplified explanation as to what pieces are
> needed, how they fit together (from move_arm down to hardware
> interface), what parameters are definitely needed and which can be
> ignored, etc.
> Any help on this would be appreciated.  I'm sure I could figure all of
> this out given enough time, but these days, time is not a great luxury
> that I have, and part of the reason I use ROS is that it has been easy
> to create, use, swap nodes, messages, topics with relative ease.  the
> ARM documentation however is quite lacking and the large number of
> motion planning, kinematics, controller, and action modules are not
> well documented as to what is deprecated, how things fit together,
> etc.
> Thanks in advance,
> Patrick
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