ROS Tutorials

1. ROS introduction

1.1. System structure

ROS is a software suite that allow for quick and easy building of autonomous robotic systems. ROS should be considered as set of tools for creating new solutions or adjusting already existing ones. Major advantage of this system is great set of drivers and implemented algorithms widely used in robotics.


Base unit in ROS is node. Nodes are in charge of handling devices or computing algorithms, each node for separate task. Nodes can communicate with each other with use of topics or services. ROS software is distributed in packages. Single package is usually developed for performing one type of task and can contain one or multiple nodes.


In ROS, topic is a data stream used to exchange information between nodes. The are used to send frequent messages of one type. This could be sensor readout or motor goal speed. Each topic is registered under the unique name and with defined message type. Nodes can connect with it to publish messages or subscribe them. For a given topic, one node can not publish and subscribe to it at the same time, but there is no restrictions in the number of different nodes publishing or subscribing.


Communication by services resemble client-server model. In this mode one node (the server) registers service in system. Later any other node can ask that service and get response. In contrast to topics, services allow for two way communication, as request can also contain some data.

1.2. Basic tools

During work with ROS there are some tools that are most useful. They are intended to examining nodes and topics.


Rosnode is command line application for examining which nodes are registered in the system and also check their statuses. Use of application is as follow:

     $ rosnode command [node_name]

Command could be:

  • list - display list of running nodes

  • info - display info regarding selected node

  • kill - stop selected node

Detailed info could be found in ROS documentation.


Rostopic is command line application for examining which topics are already being published and subscribed, check details of selected topic or read messages being sent on it. Use of application is as follow:

     $ rostopic command [topic_name]

Command could be:

  • list - display list of topics

  • info - display info regarding selected topic

  • echo - display messages published in the topic

Detailed info could be found in ROS documentation.


rqt_graph is graphical tool for visualization of data flow across nodes in system. To run application type in terminal:

     $ rqt_graph

1.3. Robot platform

This tutorial is created for ROSbot, open-source robot platform. You can read more about this here: .

The platform contains:

  • 1 × Husarion CORE2-ROS version with ASUS Tinker Board
  • 1 × RPLIDAR A2 360°
  • 1 x RGBD camera Orbbec Astra
  • 1 × MPU9250
  • 4 × SHARP GP2Y0A41SK0F

And this is how it looks like:

1.4. ROS and CORE2 Work flow

Before you start working with ROS at CORE2 platform, you need to connect to it. You can establish connection in two ways: using ssh or by remote desktop. For both methods you need an IP address of your CORE2, it could be found on after clicking “more” button next to robot name.

To connect by ssh type in terminal:

    $ ssh

password is: husarion

To connect by remote desktop you need a remote desktop client application, depending on your system, you may have various clients. Parameters for connection:


If you are working on Windows, press WinKey + r then type mstsc. You will see window:

Type your device IP address and click connect. If you are working on Mac, you can use Microsoft Remote Desktop available at AppStore. If you are working on Ubuntu, you can use Remmina.


First step in work with ROS is to run master process called roscore. This node handle registration of other nodes, topics and services. After this you can run your nodes. To start master you can use command:

    $ roscore

Starting system step by step

You can start ROS by typing each name of each node manually, you can do this with command:

    $ rosrun package_name node_type [options]

Package_name and node_type are names of package and node that you want to run.

Defining node name

If you want to bind specific identifier to node, at the end of the command, add:


Note that there are two underscores before the name.

Setting parameter

You can also set parameter value by adding:


Note that there is an underscore before the parameter name.

To find what kind of parameters you can set, and what type of data it accepts, check documentation for exact node.

Remapping topic name

If you want to change name of topic subscribed or published by node you can use remapping option. To do this, at the end of the command, add:


Note that there is no underscore before the old name.

Starting system step by step - Example

In this section, we will set up ROS system that is equipped with a USB camera and show image from camera on display. We are going to work only on PC, you do notneed to plug CORE2, Raspberry Pi or any other device beside USB camera, if you are using laptop, integrated camera will be OK.

Starting master

We will begin with master, to do it type in command line:

    $ roscore

You should see something like this:


Now you can use tools from chapter 2 in order to examine your system, don’t worry that you didn’t started any node yet.

Examining nodes

Let’s begin with checking the list of existing nodes, in new terminal type:

    $ rosnode list

As the output you should get:

    husarion@core2-ros:~$ rosnode list 

This means, that you have now one node running, it’s name is /rosout and it is responsible for handling console log mechanism. Next you can check some info of this node

    $ rosnode info /rosout

And as the output you should get:

    husarion@core2-ros:~$ rosnode info /rosout 
    Node [/rosout]
     * /rosout_agg [rosgraph_msgs/Log]

     * /rosout [unknown type]

     * /rosout/set_logger_level
     * /rosout/get_loggers

    contacting node http://core2-ros:48067/ ...
    Pid: 4594

You can see here that node /rosout is publishing to topic /rosout_agg, subscribing topic /rosout and offer two services: /rosout/set_logger_level and /rosout/get_loggers.

Examining topics

Now we will check what topics are registered in the system and get some info about them. In new console type:

$ rostopic list

You should get in the output:

husarion@core2-ros:~$ rostopic list 

This means that you have two topics registered in the system. Let’s get some info about first of them:

$ rostopic info /rosout

As the output you should get:

husarion@core2-ros:~$ rostopic info /rosout
Type: rosgraph_msgs/Log

Publishers: None

 * /rosout (http://core2-ros:33119/)

From this you can read, that on topic /rosout can be transmitted only messages of type rosgraph_msgs/Log, there is no node that publishes to this topic and node /rosout subscribes it. Now, try to get analogous info about second topic:

$ rostopic info /rosout_agg

As the output you should get:

husarion@core2-ros:~$ rostopic info /rosout_agg 
Type: rosgraph_msgs/Log

 * /rosout (http://core2-ros:33119/)

Subscribers: None

From this you can read, that on topic /rosout_agg can be transmitted only messages of type rosgraph_msgs/Log, node /rosout publishes to this topic and there is no node that subscribes it.

Starting camera node

Now you will run node for handling USB camera device. For this you will use node usb_cam_node from package usb_cam. To use this node you may need to set parameter video_device that define which camera you want to use. You can find list of cameras available in your system by typing in terminal:

$ ls /dev/video*

Output should be similar to this:

husarion@core2-ros:~$ ls /dev/video*
/dev/video0  /dev/video1

Each entry is for one camera. Above example means that we have two cameras on our system. Number of cameras may vary depending on your configuration. This node also supports Raspberry Pi camera, even though it is not an USB camera. In this example we will use USB camera and its name is /dev/video0. Having required information you can start node by typing into terminal:

$ rosrun usb_cam usb_cam_node _video_device:=/dev/video0 _image_height:=480 _image_width:=640 
_pixel_format:=yuyv _framerate:=10

Remember that value of video_device and other parameters may vary depending on which camera you want to use. For a standard USB camera you can try with default values (just do not set _image_height, _image_width and _pixel_format) or try to run your camera with different values. For _pixel_format, possible values are mjpeg, rgb24 and uyvy. For _image_height and _image_width use your camera resolution.

As output you should get something like below:


Task 1

Use rosnode and rostopic tools to check if new nodes or topic appeared in the system. Next find some info regarding new node and topics.

Starting image view node

Now you have camera node running, but can not see yet image from it. You will use node image_view from image_view package. This node by default subscribe to topic image. You need to remap this name to topic published by camera node. If you performed task 1, you should know that camera node is publishing to topic /usb_cam/image_raw. To run image view node with remapping topic name type in terminal:

$ rosrun image_view image_view image:=/usb_cam/image_raw

As the output you should get:


Task 2

Use rosnode and rostopic tools to check what changed in the system after running another node. Notice what changed in properties of /usb_cam/image_raw topic.

Examining system with rqt_graph

Now you will use rqt_graph tool in order to get graph of data flow in the system. In new terminal type:

$ rqt_graph

There will be no response in terminal, but new window will appear:


Interpretation of the graph is as follows:

  • Ovals represent node

  • Rectangles represent topics

  • Arrows pointing from node to topic represent publication to this topic

  • Arrows pointing from topic to node represent subscription to this topic

Starting system with roslaunch

Roslaunch is a tool that simplifies running of multiple nodes at one time. This tool uses .launch files that contain configuration of all nodes to be run. Usage of roslaunch is simple, in new terminal type:

roslaunch package file.launch


roslaunch file.launch

The first one is for the case when you use launch file provided with package, you can run it from any folder. The second option is when you use standalone launch file, you must run it in folder where the launch file is located or give the path to it.

Structure of .launch file

Structure of .launch file is defined as a markup language, similar to HTML. Every .launch file must begin with starting marker: <launch> and end with closing one: <\launch>. Between them should be placed markers defining nodes. You can define node by node marker, it’s structure is as follows:

    <node pkg="package_name" type="node" name="id" required="true" output="screen">

Where fields pkg, type and name are required, rest are optional. Meaning of fields:

  • pkg - name of package

  • type - node to be run

  • name - id which will be binded to node

  • required - if true, all nodes in the .launch file will be stopped if this node stops or fails, default value is false.

  • output - if value is screen node output will be directed to screen, if value is log output will be directed to log file, default is log.

For each node can be set parameters or topics could be remapped.

For setting parameters use marker param:

    <param name="name" value="value"/>

Meaning of fields:

  • name - name of parameter

  • value - desired value of the parameter

For remapping topic names use marker remap:

    <remap from="/old" to="/new"/>

Meaning of fields:

  • from - old topic name

  • to - desired topic name

Starting system with roslaunch - Example

In this section we will start the same nodes as in previous example, but this time with use of roslaunch tool.

At first you will need a .launch file.


         <node pkg="usb_cam" type="usb_cam_node" name="usb_cam">
             <param name="video_device" value="/dev/video0"/>
               <param name="image_width" value="640"/>
               <param name="image_height" value="480"/>
               <param name="pixel_format" value="yuyv"/>
               <param name="framerate" value="10"/>

         <node pkg="image_view" type="image_view" name="image_view">
             <remap from="/image" to="/usb_cam/image_raw"/>


Copy the above code to text editor, adjust value of video_device and other parameters if needed and save it to file tutorial.launch in your home directory.

Next close all consoles and nodes that are already running, go to new terminal and type:

$ roslaunch tutorial.launch

You should get output like this:


Notice that you do not need to run roscore before using roslaunch, if roscore is not running already, roslaunch will run it before starting nodes.

Task 3

Use rosnode, rostopic and rqt_graph tools to examine system started with use of roslaunch, there should be no difference in comparison to system started step by step.

1.5. Summary

After completing this tutorial you should know what are the basic components and tools of ROS. You should know two methods for starting node, setting parameters and remapping topic names. You should be able to check what nodes are running in system and to which topics they are publishing and subscribing.

by Łukasz Mitka, AGH Krakow

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