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Speeding Up Gazebo Physics Simulation (Considering ROS Plugin usage)

Dear All,

I was not sure whether to post this question here or on ROS answers page. But I think it is closer to gazebo than ROS.

My Objectives is to Speed up Physical simulation to the max speed (I use max_step_size=0.005 and real_time_update_rate=0.0). I have around 25x speed up with a Pioneer 2 robot with a single camera, 4x bumper and an IMU sensor (NVIDIA Geforce GTX980 with i7-4790@3.60 GHz x8). I use Gazebo 2.2.3 which comes with ROS indigo.

I need MORE! The reason is that I do Reinforcement learning experiments with robots, and well, faster experiments mean easier life.

What I Need to have for My robot

  • Diff drive ( I use libgazebo_ros_diff_drive )
  • Camera ( liggazebo_ros_camera)
  • 4x Bumpers (I use 4 different link connected to chassis with libgazebo_ros_bumper)
  • IMU ( I use libgazebo_ros_imu or libhector_gazebo_ros_imu)

My Questions:

  • Why the speed of simulation drops so much when a robot is added? I have around 100x speed when an environment is loaded without a robot. Is this because of ROS plugins?
  • Does anyone know of any faster ROS plugins if they are the bottleneck?
  • Is there any other way for me to update the speed further without increasing more max_step_size?
  • Is there perhaps a faster physics engine that I can use? I tried bullet, but nothing really changed.

Notes

  • I already use very simple collision meshes both for my environment and my robot.
  • My environment texture does not use lighting reflection/effects.