How to Set Up the ROS Navigation Stack on a Robot

cover-ros-navigation-stack

In this tutorial, we will learn how to set up and configure the ROS Navigation Stack for a mobile robot. The video below shows the final output you will be able to achieve once you complete this tutorial.

What is the ROS Navigation Stack?

The ROS Navigation Stack is a collection of software packages that you can use to help your robot move from a starting location to a goal location safely.


The official steps for setup and configuration are at this link on the ROS website, but we will walk through everything together, step-by-step, because those instructions leave out a lot of detail. Where possible, I will link to other tutorials that I’ve written that have detailed instructions on how to implement specific pieces of the Navigation Stack.

IMPORTANT: For your reference, all our code will be located in this folder, which I named jetson_nano_bot.

Real-World Applications

2021-05-13-20.47.15
The underside of a robot vacuum

This project has a number of real-world applications: 

  • Indoor Delivery Robots
  • Room Service Robots
  • Mapping of Underground Mines, Caves, and Hard-to-Reach Environments
  • Robot Vacuums
  • Order Fulfillment
  • Factories

Prerequisites

1-my-robot

Install the ROS Navigation Stack

Let’s start by installing the ROS Navigation Stack.

Open a new terminal window, and type the following command to install the ROS Navigation Stack.

sudo apt-get install ros-melodic-navigation

If you are using ROS Noetic, you will type:

sudo apt-get install ros-noetic-navigation

To see if it installed correctly, type:

rospack find amcl

You should see the following output:

/opt/ros/melodic/share/amcl

Create a Package

Let’s create a package inside the jetson_nano_bot folder. This package will contain our work for the ROS Navigation stack.

If you don’t already have a folder named jetson_nano_bot, create that now. Open a terminal window, and type:

cd ~/catkin_ws/src/
mkdir jetson_nano_bot

Open a new terminal window, and type:

cd ~/catkin_ws/src/jetson_nano_bot

Create a package named navstack_pub.

catkin_create_pkg navstack_pub rospy roscpp std_msgs tf tf2_ros geometry_msgs sensor_msgs nav_msgs move_base

Go inside your navstack_pub package.

roscd navstack_pub

Add a folder called param.

mkdir param

Go back to your package.

roscd navstack_pub

Open CMakeLists.txt.

gedit CMakeLists.txt

Remove the hashtag on line 5 to make sure that C++11 support is enabled.

Save and close the file.

Now let’s compile the package.

cd ~/catkin_ws/
catkin_make --only-pkg-with-deps navstack_pub

Now we’re going to put together our launch file.

Open a new terminal window, and move to your navstack_pub package.

roscd navstack_pub
mkdir launch
cd launch

Create your launch file.

gedit jetson_nano_bot.launch

Add the following code:

<launch>
</launch>

Save the file, and close it.

Transform Configuration

The ROS Navigation Stack requires that we publish information about the relationships between coordinate frames of the robot using the tf ROS package.

Open a terminal window and type:

roscd navstack_pub
cd launch

Open your launch file.

gedit jetson_nano_bot.launch

Add the “Transformation Configuration…” block of this code (you will need to download the launch file in order to copy the code) to your launch file. You will need to modify it for your own robot. A full explanation of how to do that can be found on this post.

Sensor Information

The ROS Navigation Stack uses sensor information to help the robot avoid obstacles in the environment. It assumes that the sensor publishes either sensor_msgs/LaserScan or sensor_msgs/PointCloud messages over ROS.

LIDAR Information

Open a terminal window and type:

roscd navstack_pub
cd launch

Open your launch file.

gedit jetson_nano_bot.launch

Add the “Lidar Data Publisher Using RPLIDAR…” block of this code to your launch file. This code requires no modifications. A full explanation of how to set up your LIDAR so the launch file can read it properly can be found on this post. The full tutorial for setting up your LIDAR from scratch can be found on this post.

Odometry Information

The navigation stack requires that odometry information be published using tf and the nav_msgs/Odometry message. To set this up, you will need to have completed the following three tutorials:

Once you have completed the three tutorials above, you can move to the next step to add the appropriate code to your main launch file.

Open a terminal window and type:

roscd navstack_pub
cd launch

Open your launch file.

gedit jetson_nano_bot.launch

Add the “Wheel Odometry Publisher” block of this code to your launch file. 

Add the “IMU Data Publisher Using the BNO055 IMU Sensor” block of this code to your launch file. 

Add the “Extended Kalman Filter from robot_pose_ekf Node” block of this code to your launch file. 

Base Controller

The ROS Navigation Stack requires a node that subscribes to the “cmd_vel” (i.e. velocity command) topic that takes velocities and converts them into motor commands. To set this up, you will need to have completed the following tutorial:

Once you have completed the tutorial above, you can move to the next step to add the appropriate code to your main launch file.

Open a terminal window and type:

roscd navstack_pub
cd launch

Open your launch file.

gedit jetson_nano_bot.launch

Add the “Wheel Encoder Tick Publisher and Base Controller Using Arduino” block of this code to your launch file.

Mapping Information

You do not need to have a map to run the ROS Navigation Stack, but I will assume we have a static map of our environment. The map enables us to set an initial pose for our robot and to give it a goal destination

You can create your map:

I created my map using the floorplan of my apartment. The full tutorial on how to do this is on this post.

Your map will consist of two files: a pgm file and a yaml file. My files are named floorplan4.pgm and floorplan4.yaml.

You will also need a way to convert the initial pose of the robot and your desired goal destination into a usable format. I show you how to do that in the tutorial below:

Once you have the  two map files and your initial pose and goal publisher, you can add the relevant code to your launch file.

Open a terminal window and type:

roscd navstack_pub
cd launch

Open your launch file.

gedit jetson_nano_bot.launch

Add the “Map File” block of this code to your launch file. This code loads the saved map files.

Add the “Map Server” block of this code to your launch file. This code calls on ROS to serve the map.

Add the “Initial Pose and Goal Publisher” block of this code to your launch file. This code enables you to launch RViz. You will need to delete the following argument:

args="-d /home/automaticaddison/catkin_ws/src/jetson_nano_bot/navigation_data_pub/maps/floorplan4.rviz"

So that the entire block looks like this:

<!-- Initial Pose and Goal Publisher -->
<!-- Publish: /initialpose, /move_base_simple/goal -->
 <node pkg="rviz" type="rviz" name="rviz" >
 </node>

Add the “Subscribe: /initialpose, /move_base_simple/goal” block of this code to your launch file. This code makes sure that, when you click the buttons in RViz to set the initial pose and the goal destination, the pose and goal get converted into a usable format.

Costmap Configuration (Global and Local Costmaps)

The ROS Navigation Stack uses two costmaps to store information about obstacles in the world. 

  1. Global costmap: This costmap is used to generate long term plans over the entire environment….for example, to calculate the shortest path from point A to point B on a map.
  2. Local costmap: This costmap is used to generate short term plans over the environment….for example, to avoid obstacles.

We have to configure these costmaps for our project. We set the configurations in .yaml files.

Common Configuration (Global and Local Costmap)

Let’s create a configuration file that will house parameters that are common to both the global and the local costmap. The name of this file will be costmap_common_params.yaml.

Open a terminal window, and type:

cd ~/catkin_ws
roscd navstack_pub
cd param
gedit costmap_common_params.yaml

Add the costmap_common_params.yaml code to this file.

Save and close the file.

To learn more about each of the parameters and what they mean, check out this link.

Global Configuration (Global Costmap)

Let’s create a configuration file that will house parameters for the global costmap. The name of this file will be global_costmap_params.yaml.

Open a terminal window, and type:

cd ~/catkin_ws
roscd navstack_pub
cd param
gedit global_costmap_params.yaml

Add the global_costmap_params.yaml code to this file.

Save and close the file.

Local Configuration (Local Costmap)

Let’s create a configuration file that will house parameters for the local costmap. The name of this file will be local_costmap_params.yaml.

Open a terminal window, and type:

cd ~/catkin_ws
roscd navstack_pub
cd param
gedit local_costmap_params.yaml

Add the local_costmap_params.yaml code to this file.

Save and close the file.

Base Local Planner Configuration

In addition to the costmap configurations we did in the previous section, we need to configure ROS Navigation Stack’s base local planner. The base_local_planner computes velocity commands that are sent to the robot base controller. The values that you use for your base_local_planner will depend on your robot.

Open a terminal window, and type:

cd ~/catkin_ws
roscd navstack_pub
cd param
gedit base_local_planner_params.yaml

Add the base_local_planner_params.yaml code to this file.

Save and close the file.

Move Base Node

Now that we have created our configuration files, we need to add them to the launch file. The configuration files will be used by ROS Navigation Stack’s move_base node. The move_base node is the work horse behind the scenes that is responsible for planning a collision-free path from a starting location to a goal location for a mobile robot.

The move-base node subscribes to the following topics:

  • /move_base_simple/goal :  Goal position and orientation (geometry_msgs::PoseStamped). The messages on this topic are generated using the goal button on RViz.

The publisher will publish to the following topics:

Open a terminal window, and type:

cd ~/catkin_ws
roscd navstack_pub
cd launch
gedit jetson_nano_bot.launch

Add the “Move Base Node” block of this code to your launch file. This code loads all the configuration files we have created so far. It also loads the move_base node.

AMCL Configuration

The ROS Navigation Stack requires the use of AMCL (Adaptive Monte Carlo Localization), a probabilistic localization system for a robot. AMCL is used to track the pose of a robot against a known map. It takes as input a map, LIDAR scans, and transform messages, and outputs an estimated pose. You can learn more about this package here on the ROS website.

The amcl node subscribes to the following topics:

The amcl node will publish to the following topics:

Let’s add the AMCL node to the launch file.

Open a terminal window, and type:

cd ~/catkin_ws
roscd navstack_pub
cd launch
gedit jetson_nano_bot.launch

Add the “Add AMCL example for differential drive robots” block of this code to your launch file. This code loads the ACML code for a differential drive robot.

Launch the Autonomous Mobile Robot!

We’re almost at the finished line!

Let’s compile the package. Open a new terminal, and type:

cd ~/catkin_ws/
catkin_make --only-pkg-with-deps navstack_pub

Turn the motors of your robot on.

2021-06-02-08.51.33

Open a new terminal window and launch the launch file.

roslaunch navstack_pub jetson_nano_bot.launch

If necessary, set the topics for each of the RViz plugins so that you can see the axis of your robot on the screen along with the map and costmaps.

Set the initial pose of the robot by clicking the 2D Pose Estimate button at the top of RViz and then clicking on the map. 

Give the robot a goal by clicking on the 2D Nav Goal button at the top of RViz and then clicking on the map.

You should see the planned path automatically drawn on the map. Your robot should then begin to follow this path.

2021-06-21-09.43.47
2021-06-02-08.52.28
2021-06-02-08.53.19

Open a new terminal, and see the tf tree.

rosrun tf view_frames
evince frames.pdf
tf_frames
The ROS node graph for my project
coordsystems_img
The standard coordinate frames for a mobile robot that is using the ROS Navigation Stack. Image Source: ROS Website

Open a new terminal and see the node graph.

rqt_graph

Here is the link to my node graph.

That’s it! Congratulations on getting the ROS Navigation Stack up and running! Keep building!