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As far as I know... A gazebo reference tag tells your ROS URDF file what properties a link should have in gazebo. It defines the behavior of a link when it is spawned within the gazebo environment ONLY. What you put within a gazebo reference tag does not affect how your robot behaves for instance in RVIZ. Case in point... See below

<gazebo reference="front_left_wheel">
  <mu1 value="200.0"/>
  <mu2 value="100.0"/>
  <kp value="1.0e+6"/>
  <kd value="1.0"/>
  <gravity value="true"/>
  <maxvel>0.0000001</maxvel>
  <mindepth>0.00001</mindepth>
  <material>Gazebo/Black</material>
</gazebo> 

This snippet reference says for the front_left_wheel link within the gazebo environment... Set values to blablabla... That link would then go on to behave with the set parameters WITHIN GAZEBO only.