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The pr2_mechanism_model package contains the pr2_mechanism_model::RobotState C++ class, which is an interface to the robot joints and a description of the robot model. The RobotState gives easy access to individual joints. To work with a kinematic chain that contains multiple joints, pr2_mechanism_model contains a pr2_mechanism_model::Chain tool that represents a full kinematic chain and interfaces with the RobotState.

The following diagram shows how the mechanism model is set up on the robot and in simulation.




pr2_mechanism_model::RobotState is the main class in this package. When a controller gets initialized, the controller manager passes the controller a pointer to the RobotState (see the controller interface). The robot state describes both the kinematic/dynamic model of the robot and the current state of the robot. The state of the robot is defined by the position/velocity/effort of the joints in the robot. The model of the robot is a urdf object, as defined in the urdf package. Additionally, the RobotState provides access to the 'controller time', the time at which a controller cycle is started. To see an example on how to use the RobotState, check out the controllers tutorials.


The pr2_mechanism_model::RobotState provides access by name to all the pr2_mechanism_model::JointStates it contains. To get access to a JointState, use the following method:

JointState* js = robot_state_->getJointState(name);

From a JointState you can extract joint position, effort, velocity, and command the desired joint effort: To get e.g. the measured joint position from the JointState, use:

double position = js->position_;

or, to set the commanded effort on JointState, use:

js->commanded_effort_ = my_command;

The tutorials give more examples on how to use the JointState.

The JointState also gives access to the joint model, which contains things like the joint type, axis, reference position, etc. To e.g. get the joint type, use:

if (js->joint_->type == urdf::Joint::Continuous)
ROS_INFO("This is a continuous joint");

The urdf API documentation provides all details.

For reference documentation, check out the code api. From a JointState you can read the measured position, measured velocity and measured effort effort, and write the commanded effort.

URDF Safety Controller Limits

Class member urdf::Joint::safety


contains various parameters used to configure joint safety controller position and velocity limits. Please see the code api for more details.


The pr2_mechanism_model::RobotState also provides access to the transmissions between the motors and the joints. Typically you should not need the transmissions, unless you are using some advanced dynamic model, or you are calibrating the joints. To get access to a JointState, use the following method:

Transmission* tr = robot_state_->getTransmission(name);

See the code api for more details.

For details on the transmission description format, check out the transmission elements page.

Controller time

Every time a controller cycle is started, the controller manager records the time. This time can be accessed by all controllers through the pr2_mechanism_model::RobotState. When a controller e.g. needs to compute the duration between two consecutive update loops, it should use the controller time, not the system time. In contrast to the system time, the controller time is not affected by the time other controllers consume in their update loop. Moreover, the controller time is the best measure of when the communication with the hardware actually occurs. To get access to the controller time, use:

ros::Time time = robot_state_->getTime();

Robot model

The pr2_mechanism_model::RobotState contains a urdf robot description object. There is lots of documentation on the urdf model, and there are even a number of tutorials you could look at. To get access to the urdf model use:

urdf::Model m = robot_state_->robot_->robot_model_;


The pr2_mechanism_model::Chain class provides an easy way to work with a kinematic chain that consists of multiple joints. Instead of finding all the joints by iterating through the RobotState, the Chain will pull out all the joints between a given root and tip link:

pr2_mechanism_model::Chain chain;
chain.init(robot_state, root_name, tip_name);

From a Chain you can get the positions/velocities/efforts of all the joints, and set the efforts of all joints:

KDL::JointArray jnt_pos;

KDL::JointArrayVel jnt_pos_vel;

KDL::JointArray jnt_eff;

KDL::JointArray jnt_eff;

From a chain you can also extract a KDL::Chain:

KDL::Chain kdl_chain;

See the code API for more details.

Usage Documentation

The pr2_mechanism_model is used when writing a realtime controller. For example code on how to use the pr2_mechanism_model::RobotState and the pr2_mechanism_model::JointState classes, check out this tutorial on writing a realtime joint controller. To see an example on how to use the pr2_mechanism_model::Chain object for Cartesian control, check out this tutorial on writing a realtime Cartesian controller.

2024-07-20 13:25