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Rolling my own simulator, asking for a list of common components!

asked 2020-08-08 18:50:14 -0600

Underdog gravatar image

updated 2020-08-08 18:52:56 -0600

I am in building my own simulator, and I'm not familiar with too many robot components. I am a senior undergraduate student in CS. I've taken a few classes on robotics but we haven't actually built one to work with (apart from one interdisciplinary class). Due to Covid-19 we used a simulator this past spring, and I loved it but it wasn't easy to work with (it was not ROS, professor's choice).

I would ideally like a list the most common components you use! This is just to get a base level quantity and quality of components to implement before moving on to less common components.

Thank you for your time!

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answered 2020-08-09 04:59:01 -0600

updated 2020-08-10 03:24:57 -0600

Are you building your robot simulator for fun, or you believe there is a gap in the market?

If you believe there is the market gap you should check the other robot simulators, for example:

Which simulator did you use? What have you found hard to use?

If you are building the robot simulator for fun, then I would say that the main components are:

  1. graphics engine,
  2. physics engine (this may have a much lower priority depending on what you want to achieve),
  3. motorized joints with encoders,
  4. LiDAR and
  5. IMU.

In short, all components you need to simulate TurtleBot3 Burger.

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We actually used the first one you mentioned in that list. It was OK-ish but I think I can do better and this just seems like a fun project. I recently decided I dislike game development (funny, it was a sort of lifelong dream) and just love more problem oriented things such as cyber security and robotics... a simulator seemed like the best bridge between game dev and robotics!

I've got an engine or two already picked out for this already too.

Underdog gravatar image Underdog  ( 2020-08-09 05:22:13 -0600 )edit

Interesting! I wish you luck! But keep in mind that it is going to be hard, and consider contributing to the existing robot simulators (they are all open-source).

P.S. I am curious, can you write in a few points what were the difficulties you have encountered and how would you solve them?

lukicdarkoo gravatar image lukicdarkoo  ( 2020-08-09 06:11:01 -0600 )edit

Absolutely! The main problem for me has been intuitiveness and ease of use. The controls in Webots software... kinda suck. Being somewhat of a gamer and game developer I understand intuitive controls are paramount. Additionally assigning the scripts to a robot or object was not always easy and the built in editor was quite featureless. I preferred to use a lightweight IDE but Webots required a good chunk of screen space anyway. It was pretty easy to get lost in the scene especially when your camera flipped over and everything got backface culled.

Underdog gravatar image Underdog  ( 2020-08-09 06:17:18 -0600 )edit

@lukicdarkoo: for full transparency it may be good to mention your work on/with Webots with Cyberbotics?

gvdhoorn gravatar image gvdhoorn  ( 2020-08-10 00:41:33 -0600 )edit

Still looking for a list of components. Ie. physical hardware commonly used in robot building. Ie. brands/models/etc.

Underdog gravatar image Underdog  ( 2020-08-10 05:17:06 -0600 )edit

Can anyone supply that info?

Underdog gravatar image Underdog  ( 2020-08-17 23:23:13 -0600 )edit

There is no real answer to this, as there are so many components available, and I would say there is also no necessary (co)relation between what is used in physical robots and what gets used in simulations.

To give you an example: many mobile robots in simulation could include a Velodyne 3D lidar, as it's a good sensor to have, and avoids needing to add multiple others. However, those sensors are very expensive, so it's not necessarily very common to see them on real robots.

You might just see what Gazebo users (for instance) add to their robot models, or Webots users. That could give you some insight.

gvdhoorn gravatar image gvdhoorn  ( 2020-08-18 01:11:56 -0600 )edit

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Asked: 2020-08-08 18:50:14 -0600

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Last updated: Aug 10 '20