Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Widget HTML #1

Introduction to ROS 6Dof robotic arm

Introduction to ROS 6Dof robotic arm

Open source robotic arm based on ROS. OpenMANIPULATOR-PRO. Request product price. 6DOF Robot Arm. Z1 Ar · Z1 Arm (for AlienGo

Enroll Now

Robotic arms with six degrees of freedom (6DoF) are among the most versatile and commonly used in industrial automation, research, and hobbyist projects. The 6DoF configuration allows the robotic arm to move in three translational directions (X, Y, Z) and three rotational directions (pitch, yaw, roll). This flexibility makes them ideal for tasks ranging from assembly and welding to delicate operations in medical procedures.

The Robot Operating System (ROS) is an open-source framework that provides a collection of software libraries and tools to help build robot applications. ROS is widely adopted in both academic and industrial settings due to its modularity, extensive documentation, and vibrant community. In this article, we will explore the integration and operation of a 6DoF robotic arm using ROS.

Components of a 6DoF Robotic Arm

A typical 6DoF robotic arm consists of the following components:

  1. Base: The foundation of the arm that provides stability.
  2. Joints: Six joints that provide the six degrees of freedom. These are typically actuated by motors.
  3. Links: The rigid segments connecting the joints.
  4. End-Effector: The tool or gripper at the end of the arm that interacts with the environment.
  5. Controllers: Hardware or software modules that drive the motors.
  6. Sensors: Devices that provide feedback on position, orientation, and other parameters.

ROS Overview

ROS provides a structured communication layer above the host operating systems of a heterogeneous computer cluster. Its main components include:

  • Nodes: Processes that perform computation.
  • Master: Facilitates communication between nodes.
  • Messages: Data sent between nodes.
  • Topics: Channels for message passing.
  • Services: Synchronous communication for request-reply interactions.
  • Bags: Format for recording and playing back ROS message data.

Setting Up a 6DoF Robotic Arm with ROS

1. Installation

First, install ROS on your system. ROS Noetic is the latest LTS release as of 2024, compatible with Ubuntu 20.04.

sudo apt update sudo apt install ros-noetic-desktop-full

Initialize rosdep and set up the ROS environment:

sudo rosdep init rosdep update echo "source /opt/ros/noetic/setup.bash" >> ~/.bashrc source ~/.bashrc

2. Creating a Workspace

Create and initialize a new catkin workspace:

mkdir -p ~/catkin_ws/src cd ~/catkin_ws/ catkin_make source devel/setup.bash

3. URDF Model

Define the 6DoF robotic arm in a Unified Robot Description Format (URDF) file. This file describes the robot’s physical configuration.

Create a file arm.urdf in ~/catkin_ws/src/urdf_tutorial/urdf/ with the following content:

<robot name="6dof_arm"> <link name="base_link"/> <joint name="joint1" type="revolute"> <parent link="base_link"/> <child link="link1"/> <origin xyz="0 0 0.1" rpy="0 0 0"/> <axis xyz="0 0 1"/> </joint> <link name="link1"/> <!-- Repeat for joint2 to joint6 --> <joint name="joint6" type="revolute"> <parent link="link5"/> <child link="link6"/> <origin xyz="0 0 0.1" rpy="0 0 0"/> <axis xyz="0 0 1"/> </joint> <link name="link6"/> <link name="end_effector"/> </robot>

4. Launching in RViz

To visualize the robotic arm in RViz, create a launch file view_arm.launch in ~/catkin_ws/src/urdf_tutorial/launch/:

<launch> <param name="robot_description" command="cat $(find urdf_tutorial)/urdf/arm.urdf"/> <node name="robot_state_publisher" pkg="robot_state_publisher" type="robot_state_publisher"/> <node name="rviz" pkg="rviz" type="rviz" args="-d $(find urdf_tutorial)/rviz/arm.rviz"/> </launch>

Run the launch file:

roslaunch urdf_tutorial view_arm.launch

5. Adding Control with MoveIt!

MoveIt! is a powerful ROS library for robotic arm motion planning and manipulation.

Install MoveIt!:

sudo apt-get install ros-noetic-moveit

Generate a MoveIt! configuration package for your robot:

roslaunch moveit_setup_assistant setup_assistant.launch

Follow the steps in the setup assistant to generate the configuration package. Save it in your catkin workspace.

Controlling the Robotic Arm

To control the 6DoF robotic arm, you can write ROS nodes in Python or C++ that publish joint commands or use MoveIt! for higher-level planning.

Python Example

Create a ROS node that moves the first joint:

#!/usr/bin/env python import rospy from std_msgs.msg import Float64 def move_joint(): rospy.init_node('move_joint', anonymous=True) pub = rospy.Publisher('/arm/joint1_position_controller/command', Float64, queue_size=10) rate = rospy.Rate(10) # 10hz while not rospy.is_shutdown(): position = 1.0 # Example position in radians rospy.loginfo(position) pub.publish(position) rate.sleep() if __name__ == '__main__': try: move_joint() except rospy.ROSInterruptException: pass

Save this script as, make it executable, and run it:

chmod +x ./

Advanced Topics

Kinematics and Dynamics

Understanding both forward and inverse kinematics is crucial for controlling a 6DoF robotic arm. Forward kinematics involves calculating the end-effector position given the joint angles. Inverse kinematics, conversely, involves calculating the joint angles required to achieve a desired end-effector position.


Integrating a 6DoF robotic arm with ROS provides a powerful platform for a wide range of robotic applications. By leveraging ROS's extensive libraries and tools, developers can focus on creating sophisticated and functional robotic solutions. This guide provides a foundational understanding, and further exploration of ROS documentation and community resources will enable more advanced implementations.