Manual Initialization

Manual initialization encapsulates all initialisation and handling of EXOTica within C++ or Python code, with no external XML files. This could be preferred if your project has been finalized or if you prefer to have all your EXOTica code in one place.

An example of manual initialization in Python can be found in the scripts directory of the exotica_examples package. In this tutorial, we will use the example of manual initialization for the UnconstrainedEndPoseProblem written in C++, found in the src directory of the exotica_examples package:

#include <exotica_core/exotica_core.h>

// Manual initialization requires dependency on specific solvers and task maps:
#include <exotica_ik_solver/ik_solver_initializer.h>
#include <task_map/eff_frame_initializer.h>

using namespace exotica;

void run()
    Server::InitRos(std::shared_ptr<ros::NodeHandle>(new ros::NodeHandle("~")));

    // Scene using joint group 'arm'
    SceneInitializer scene("MyScene", "arm", false, "", "{exotica_examples}/resources/robots/lwr_simplified.urdf", "{exotica_examples}/resources/robots/lwr_simplified.srdf");
    // End-effector task map with two position frames
    EffFrameInitializer map("Position", false,
                {FrameInitializer("lwr_arm_6_link", Eigen::VectorTransform(0, 0, 0, 0.7071067811865476, -4.3297802811774664e-17, 0.7071067811865475, 4.3297802811774664e-17))});
    // Create a task using the map above (goal will be specified later)
    Eigen::VectorXd W(7);
    W << 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1;

    UnconstrainedEndPoseProblemInitializer problem("MyProblem", scene, false, {map}, W);
    IKSolverInitializer solver("MySolver");
    solver.C = 1e-3;
    solver.MaxIterations = 1;
    solver.MaxStep = 0.1;


Initializer Headers

At the top of the script, two initialiser header files are included: one for the exotica_ik_solver/ik_solver_initializer.h and one for exotica_core_task_maps/eff_position_initializer.h. These are generated from the .in files during the compilation/build phase.

When initializing manually, the appropriate initializers must be included for both the task map and the solver. These are stored in the exotations directory under task_maps and solvers respectively.

Currently available solvers are:

#include <exotica_ompl_solver/ompl_solver_initializer.h>
#include <exotica_aico_solver/aico_solver_initializer.h>
#include <exotica_ik_solver/ik_solver_initializer.h>

Once we have included the correct initializers, we must initialise: * scene * map * problem * solver

Scene Initialization

When initializing the scene, we instantiate a SceneInitializer, which here name scene.

// Scene using joint group 'arm'
SceneInitializer scene("MyScene", "arm", false, "", "{exotica_examples}/resources/robots/lwr_simplified.urdf", "{exotica_examples}/resources/robots/lwr_simplified.srdf");

We must also pass in our initialization arguments seen in the Scene Initializer file:

class Scene

extend <exotica_core/object>

Required std::string JointGroup;

Optional std::string RobotDescription = "robot_description";
Optional std::string URDF = "";
Optional std::string SRDF = "";
Optional bool SetRobotDescriptionRosParams = false;  // to be used in conjunction with URDF or SRDF to set the robot_description and robot_description_semantic from the files/string in URDF/SRDF

// CollisionScene
Optional std::vector<exotica::Initializer> CollisionScene = std::vector<exotica::Initializer>();
Optional bool AlwaysUpdateCollisionScene = false;      // Whether each Scene::Update triggers a CollisionScene::UpdateObjectTransforms()
Optional bool DoNotInstantiateCollisionScene = false;  // If true, no CollisionScene plug-in will be loaded.

// DynamicsSolver
Optional std::vector<exotica::Initializer> DynamicsSolver = std::vector<exotica::Initializer>();

Optional std::string LoadScene = "";  // to load multiple scenes, separate by semi-colon.
Optional std::vector<exotica::Initializer> Links = std::vector<exotica::Initializer>();
Optional std::vector<exotica::Initializer> Trajectories = std::vector<exotica::Initializer>();
Optional std::vector<exotica::Initializer> AttachLinks = std::vector<exotica::Initializer>();

// TODO: Move to CollisionScene
Optional std::vector<std::string> RobotLinksToExcludeFromCollisionScene = std::vector<std::string>();
Optional std::vector<std::string> WorldLinksToExcludeFromCollisionScene = std::vector<std::string>();

Here we use the parameters: * name of the scene (“MyScene”) * name of the joint group (“arm”) which is specified in the SRDF file. * Debug argument (“false”) * RobotDescription (“”) * URDF (name of URDF file) * SRDF (name of SRDF file)

Map Initialization

Maps refers to the task maps of a problem, they provide a mapping from configuration space to task space which are useful for fulfilling several tasks, such as specifying goals and avoiding obstacles. You can read more about task maps in a later section .

For now we are only interested in reaching an end effector goal, so we will use the EffFrame task map, which allows us specify the name of the end effector from the URDF file, which will be the focus when we try to reach a an end effector goal, as we are doing here.

EffFrameInitializer map("Position", false,
                        {FrameInitializer("lwr_arm_6_link", Eigen::VectorTransform(0, 0, 0, 0.7071067811865476, -4.3297802811774664e-17, 0.7071067811865475, 4.3297802811774664e-17))});

Here we create an EffFrameInitializer with the name “map”. We again give the initialiser a name - “Position”, which will be used to refer to the map later. Then we give the standard debug argument (here it is false); then to initialise the frame we use the FrameInitializer initialiser to give the name of the end effector link (Must be the same name as the link in the URDF file). Then we can add an optional offset argument.

NOTE - the name of the end effector link must match that in the URDF and SRDF files

Problem Initialization

In the steps up to this point, we have generated the components which make up a problem. Now we can move onto initialising a problem itself using these parts.

In this example we are interested in setting up a UnconstrainedEndPoseProblem, so we use the UnconstrainedEndPoseProblemInitializer. Naturally, if your problem is a SamplingProblem, then the SamplingProblemInitializer would be used and so on. But here we have our current problem initialiser:

UnconstrainedEndPoseProblemInitializer problem("MyProblem", scene, false, {map}, W);

into which we pass: * a name for the problem "MyProblem" (which we will use later) * the scene initialiser we created earlier (the name of the holder, not the name of the scene) * a debug argument. Here we set it to false * the map initialiser (must be contained in curly braces {}) * the weight vector W

Later we will see in more detail that we can send multiple maps to the problem initialiser, all contained within the curly braces e.g. {map,joint_limit_map,obs_avoid_map} with a map initialiser for each of the variables inside the braces.

The W vector weights the joints of your robot according to the cost of moving each one. This vector must be the same size as the number of the number of DOF of your robot.


That’s the problem set up, now to do the same for the solver. For the problem we have used in the tutorial (UnconstrainedEndPoseProblem), the IK solver is the most appropriate solver, so this is the solver we will set up:

IKSolverInitializer solver("MySolver");
solver.C = 1e-3;
solver.MaxIterations = 1;
solver.MaxStep = 0.1;

Again, we have an initialiser for the solver (IKSolverInitializer) and we instantiate to a container, which here we call solver. Also during initialisation, we give the solver a name we we can refer to it later; here we call the solver "MySolver"

Solver Options

After setting up the solver, there are some options to fill in to set parameters for the solver, some required and some optional. Since we have used the IKSolver in the tutorial, the options for this solver are seen below:

extend <exotica_core/motion_solver>
Optional double Tolerance = 1e-5;
Optional double Convergence = 0.0;
Optional int MaxIterations = 50;
Optional double MaxStep = 0.02;
Optional double C = 0.0;
Optional double Alpha = 1.0;

All selections in the IKSolver are optional. By referring back to the example code, you see that we decided to set 3 of the options for this solver:

solver.C = 1e-3;
solver.MaxIterations = 1;
solver.MaxStep = 0.1;

This method is extensible to all the options in all the solvers. Before initialising a solver, you should always look for initialisation options, as some may be required. Again, these can be found in:


We now almost have a fully initialized motion solver. We can now move onto the common initialization step between hard-coded and XML initialization here.