[ros-users] Writing a Plugin for Actuator in Conjunction with Gazebo?

Kefei Zeng kefei.zeng at mail.utoronto.ca
Tue Jun 3 21:06:40 UTC 2014

Hello, everybody. I've only started to use ROS last week as part of my internship. I'm using Gazebo 2.2.2 in conjunction with ROS Indigo and Ubuntu 14.04 'Trusty'. I was tasked to research a way to write a simple plugin that could control a robot. I was told that I should aim for a plugin that causes the robot to move by actually controlling its actuator motor and not simply moving the model's joints. I've searched a ways to write a plugin for manipulating the acutator, but no luck with a specific example yet.

Here's what I know so far:
The stack ros_control has something to do with using actuators and works best with URDF.
URDF files have the <actuator> tag.
None of the default models included in Gazebo have actuators, only joints.
The gazebosim.org tutorial page does not contain instructions for writing plugins for actuators, only world, system, model, and sensors.

What I don't know:
Can I use actuators in an .sdf file?
What does ros_controller (NOT ros_control) actually do? The ROS wiki has little information on this stack.
Is it true that it's better to use URDF rather than SDF for actuators? Especially since the tutorial on the Gazebo wiki specifies the use of URDF.
What exactly is the format of an actuator configuration file (if it's possible)?
Is it actually possible to write a plugin that manipulates the actuators instead of the model itself or the joints?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. If anyone needs clarification on some of the things I said, feel free to ask. I'll do my best to make things clear.

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