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The simulation of actuators in Gazebo occurs through joints, not through applying force directly to links. The API allows applying force directly to links, but that's for cases such as wind, buoyancy and other external forces that would push the link, not for wheel actuation.

Therefore, to move your your wheels, you should use the controllers of the revolute joints connecting the wheels to the chassis, and it seems you already found a way to get to it though GetJointController.