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Open source robotic simulation packages

Sep 6, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 6 views

Open source robot simulation software simplifies the creation of physical Linux-based robots, according to an overview article at IBM's DeveloperWorks site. Simulators such as ODE, Simbad, TeamBots, KControl, Gazebo, and Carmen can help test ideas before putting them into hardware, writes author M. Tim Jones.

(Click for larger view of Simbad screenshot)

Jones begins by noting that whether physical or virtual, robots have sensors, effectors, and control systems that enable them to perceive, “think,” and act, and then get feedback from their actions, think, and act again (step and repeat).

According to Jones, simulation enables accelerated “evolution” of robotic control systems, based on the genetic algorithm of random permutations across many generations. Such evolution in the physical realm would obviously require a great deal of robot construction.

Open source robot simulation packages covered include:

  • ODE (Open Dynamics Engine), a BSD-licensed physics library that, along with a 3D graphics library such as OpenGL, can be used to create photo-realistic graphics with realistic physics as well, Jones writes
  • Simbad — A 3D robot simulator written in Java, with Python bindings, to allow rapid creation of new robot behaviors; due to the interpreted nature of Python, simulation applications written in Python need not be recompiled constantly
  • TeamBots — A portable multi-agent robotic simulator that supports simulation of multi-agent control systems in dynamic environments with visualization, for example teams of soccer-playing robots
  • Others, such as KControl (Khepera control), Gazebo, and Carmen

Jones ends his article by making a case for basing physical robots on Linux, in addition to simulated robots.

The complete story can be found here.

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