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ROS Package for Robotiq Grippers

Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette
by Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette. Last updated on May 05, 2016 5:14 PM
Posted on Aug 12, 2014 8:00 AM. 4 min read time

In the last couple of months we have noticed an increased interest in the ROS package for the Robotiq Adaptive Grippers. This programming method is well established in the research community and is beginning to transfer its good reputation to the industrial automation world as well. This article will explain the basics of ROS and will guide you through different components of the ROS package for Robotiq.

What is ROS?

ROS (Robot Operating System) is an open source flexible framework for programming robot software. It is a collection of different tools to help you program a large variety of robots. Tools such as libraries are shared online so everyone can have access to the work of others. The goal is to help programmers solve problems more easily and avoid wasting time working on libraries that have already been developed. For example, a certain kind of motion request needs to be sent to a Robotiq 3-Finger Adaptive Gripper, instead of writing the program on your own from scratch, you can get the motion you are looking for from the ROS collection. By changing the different parameters you can then adapt the program for your application. So, ROS can help you with its large variety of programs, then you can put them together to control a robot from A to Z.

''ROS was designed to be as distributed and modular as possible, so that users can use as much or as little of ROS as they desire. We'll cover what components make up ROS elsewhere, but the modularity of ROS allows you to pick and choose which parts are useful for you and which parts you'd rather implement yourself.'' -ROS maintainers

To download ROS and the different programs needed to use it, follow this link.

''The distributed nature of ROS also fosters a large community of user-contributed packages that add a lot of value on top of the core ROS system. At last count there were over 3,000 packages in the ROS ecosystem, and that is only the ROS packages that people have taken the time to announce to the public. These packages range in fidelity, covering everything from proof-of-concept implementations of new algorithms to industrial-quality drivers and capabilities. The ROS user community builds on top of a common infrastructure to provide an integration point that offers access to hardware drivers, generic robot capabilities, development tools, useful external libraries, and more.'' -ROS maintainers

ROS with Robotiq Grippers

On our side of things, we have created over the years several program packages that can help you to program your Robotiq Gripper. In fact, a lot of different motions are in the collection and the different parameters can be modified. The basic parameters such as speed (rSP), position (rPR) and force (rFR) of the motions can be modify in the program. The Robotic Gripper status can also be read by using this program. It is actually a complete package that will allow you to use all the functionalities of the Robotiq Grippers without having to debug your program, since most of time the bugs have been fix by the community.

ROS Industrial

Still it is to note that ROS programs can only be used with the Robotiq Gripper when it is configured with MODBUS-TCP or MODBUS-RTU communication protocols (the latter was added by community member Kelsey Hawkins from Georgia Tech - thanks!). Even though we have created original programs, ROS is always enhancing the performance of the different programs by using the feedback from the community. So, by using this platform and updating it, we insure that the end user always has the latest version of the program. Thanks to the involvement of the community, the robustness of the control software has been improved and new features were added, such as the Modbus RTU protocol and some high-level functions.

Robotiq is part of ROS-industrial, (doesn't the logo look like a Robotiq Gripper?) a consortium that wants to be able to control industrial equipment with ROS. All the main robot manufacturers have packages to control their robots with ROS and companies such as Fanuc, Motoman and ABB all have their packages in the ROS community.

Get involve in the ROS community and you will be surprised to see the diversity of tools that are available out there. Hopefully this blog has given you a clearer idea of what ROS is all about and maybe even motivated you to check out ROS or join the ROS community.  Don’t hesitate to contact our Robotiq Support Team for any questions you might have about ROS and Robotiq Grippers.


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Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette
Mathieu is a production engineer at Robotiq, where he constantly strives to optimize the production line for Robotiq Grippers. He enjoys discovering new robotic applications and sharing what he learns on Robotiq's blog.
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