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How to run a ROS service call in another thread with boost

asked 2015-01-09 03:29:34 -0600

Hi, my node as a class which calls a service. During that service call it needs to get notified by a topic. The callback is set up respectively. The problem is that during the service call no messages are received. I suspect that the node is blocked by the service call and cannot handle any callback calls. They just pop up after the service call has terminated.

Below is a similar example of that node.

class MyClass {
    callService(){;  // blocking here!
       // do something <-- is never called during service request
int main.. {
  ros::ServiceClient my_srv = n.serviceClient<..>("..");
  MyClass my_class(my_srv);
  n.subscribe(my_topic, 100, &MyClass::callback, &my_class);

When trying to put the service call in another boost thread compilation leads to the error (see below);  // blocking here!

Changed to:

 boost::thread myThread = boost::thread(boost::bind(&ros::ServiceClient::call, &my_srv, request));


 »bind(<unresolved overloaded function type>, ros::ServiceClient*, request&)«

Any hints? Thanks

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1 Answer

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answered 2015-01-09 03:50:57 -0600

Hi Sebastian,

a couple of points:

  • Service calls are blocking. This is a deliberate design decision. IMO, services should in general only be used for things which return quickly. If you want to query a long-running service asynchronously, that's a sign that that service should better be implemented as an actionlib action. (... assuming you control the implementation of the service, that is.)
  • Your topic callbacks aren't triggered because they only are triggered when your node enters ros::spin() or ros::spinOnce(). In roscpp, there are threads which handle topics asynchronously, but they only fill the subscriber queues. When you call ros::spin(), your thread goes through the messages in the subscriber queues one by one and calls the corresponding callbacks. This means that if you're only using ros::spin(), your code won't be multi-threaded.
  • A good solution for your problem could be the ros::AsyncSpinner class. It starts a user-defined number of threads which all call ros::spin(), so you don't have to call it yourself any more. The drawback (as with any multi-threaded solution) is of course that now you need to make sure that all resources are properly locked to prevent data races.

Hope this helps!

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Hi Martin, Thanks!

  • I understand the second point and regarding the first point I completely agree. Unfortunately it's not my package and it was designed by uos like this on purpose;-)

    • ros::AsyncSpinner looks interesting. I'll have a look if I can solve the problem pragmatically with it.
Sebastian Rockel gravatar image Sebastian Rockel  ( 2015-01-09 09:31:58 -0600 )edit

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Asked: 2015-01-09 03:29:34 -0600

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Last updated: Jan 09 '15