Feedbacks on accurate and performant physics simulation for ROS for a pile of objects?

asked 2023-04-08 17:48:41 -0600

thibd gravatar image


I'm interested into user feedbacks regarding physics simulation in ROS when it comes to simulate a pile of objects subject to gravity.

With Gazebo, Isaac Sim, Unity Robotics... There are lots of options for simulation with ROS and I'm not sure to understand the pros and the cons of each.

My use case is pretty performance greedy. You can imagine a pile of 200 cardboard boxes with 10 stages, with lots of different sizes and shapes that are slightly deformable and not always on a totally plane surface. We need to simulate gravity, reactive forces, friction and if possible small amounts of deformation.

We already made tests in a CAD software. We got realistic behavior but that proven to be quite slow. Too slow for our use case.

We have two ways of action.

One is to limit the realism of the pile. We could freeze objets that are beneath the others. However we would lost a part of the potential dynamics and global pile deformation.

The other is to find a simulation that is performant enough. Order 1 is already quite slow for the use case. We have productivity constraints and order 1 would already significantly slow the process. We aim at 0.1.

The computation would be made on edge. We can budget $5000 for the computer and have enough space for a PC tower with several NVDIA cards.

I have some experience with Bullet and my guess was to move towards a more advanced simulator such as PhysiX. Using big players solutions such as Unity Robotics or Isaac Sim.

However people from my company are more experienced with Gazebo and I'm pushed towards it.

Currently I'm thinking into starting in Gazebo and taking the risk of having to test another one as well. This is quite risky given the relatively short time I have to develop this simulator.

I would be interested if you have some experience with such use cases involving a high number of interactions between objects and chain reactions, in one or another simulator available with ROS2?

Best regards

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quick comment: I've not yet used it myself for anything serious, but I hear good things about MuJoCo for these kinds of things. It's been open-sourced last year, and there are various ROS wrappers/integrations. How well those are supported I wouldn't know, nor whether they'd support whatever would be needed for deformable objects. If you're going to have to evaluate a couple of simulators, I'd perhaps suggest including MuJoCo.

gvdhoorn gravatar image gvdhoorn  ( 2023-04-09 00:51:01 -0600 )edit