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I use a combination of converting .urdf to .sdf and custom cmake targets. From the CMakeLists.txt

install(DIRECTORY meshes/
    DESTINATION $ENV{HOME}/.gazebo/models/lwr_description/meshes
)
set(lwrs
  lwr1
  lwr2
)

foreach(lwr ${lwrs})
  set(dir ${CMAKE_CURRENT_SOURCE_DIR}/models/${lwr})
  install(DIRECTORY ${dir} DESTINATION $ENV{HOME}/.gazebo/models)

  add_custom_command(
    OUTPUT ${CMAKE_CURRENT_SOURCE_DIR}/urdf/${lwr}.urdf
    COMMAND rosrun
    ARGS xacro xacro ${CMAKE_CURRENT_SOURCE_DIR}/urdf/${lwr}.xacro > ${CMAKE_CURRENT_SOURCE_DIR}/urdf/${lwr}.urdf
      DEPENDS ${CMAKE_CURRENT_SOURCE_DIR}/urdf/lwr_macro.xacro ${CMAKE_CURRENT_SOURCE_DIR}/urdf/${lwr}.xacro ${CMAKE_CURRENT_SOURCE_DIR}/urdf/lwrFRI1.gazebo
  )

  add_custom_command(
    OUTPUT ${CMAKE_CURRENT_SOURCE_DIR}/models/${lwr}/model.sdf
    COMMAND gz
    ARGS sdf --print ${CMAKE_CURRENT_SOURCE_DIR}/urdf/${lwr}.urdf > ${CMAKE_CURRENT_SOURCE_DIR}/models/${lwr}/model.sdf
      DEPENDS ${CMAKE_CURRENT_SOURCE_DIR}/urdf/${lwr}.urdf ${CMAKE_CURRENT_BINARY_DIR}/${lwr}.urdf.checked
  )

  add_custom_command(
      OUTPUT ${CMAKE_CURRENT_BINARY_DIR}/${lwr}.urdf.checked
    COMMAND check_urdf
      ARGS ${CMAKE_CURRENT_SOURCE_DIR}/urdf/${lwr}.urdf > ${CMAKE_CURRENT_BINARY_DIR}/${lwr}.urdf.checked
      DEPENDS ${CMAKE_CURRENT_SOURCE_DIR}/urdf/${lwr}.urdf
  )

  add_custom_target("${lwr}sdf" ALL DEPENDS urdf/${lwr}.urdf models/${lwr}/model.sdf)
endforeach()

Inside the .urdf (or .xacro) the meshes are referenced as

<mesh filename="package://lwr_description/meshes/link0_mq_dh.dae"/>

which results in the following inside the .sdf (as converted by gz sdf --print):

<uri>model://lwr_description/meshes/convex/link0_lq_dh.dae</uri>

This way you do not have to model anything twice and can add everything through the usual gazebo mechanisms (i.e. <include> in a .world file) or add it through GUI or ROS topics ...