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Definitely can use it outside of Gazebo. Take a look at the tdx_urdf package for an example of a URDF that we only used for visualizing in rviz, never for Gazebo simulation. You can see an example of the model being displaying in rviz here.

There are launch file(s) in that package that should start up the model as well as the tf publishers that will handle all of the static joints in the URDF. To view it in rviz, you'll need a RobotModel display configured properly to read the URDF from the correct parameter. There is a urdf.vcg file in that package that should configure rviz properly if you used the launch files (at least I'm pretty sure it does... if not, we forgot to update it).