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The common way of controlling models in gazebo is using model plugins, which are written in C++. This tutorial gives a simple introduction to model plugins.

A nice example which might be worth looking into is the diff drive robot in the beginner tutorials. That shows you how to create a robot from scratch and use a plugin to make it follow the closest object, sensed by a depth camera (not a laser scanner like you want). By this point you won't need to write any C++ code and will be using existing plugins.

After you go through that tutorial and get the robot follower working, you can start looking into the C++ code controlling its behavior and modify it for your use case. Here's where you can find the files:

Have fun! And feel free to ask more specific questions on this site if you get stuck anywhere.