V-REP , a Powerful Simulator for ROS

V-REP (Virtual Robot Experimentation Platform ) is often called the  Swiss Army Knife among all the robot simulators. It is a comprehensive tool which can be used by beginners as well as robotics gurus. It provides interfaces  in C/C++, Python, Lua, Java, Matlab and URBI. Moreover it is cross platform compatible and works flawlessly in Windows, Linux and Mac. What attracted me to V-REP was that, it can be used for fast prototyping and verification, fast algorithm development.It also has the possibility of testing sensors and vision algorithm. V-REP handles dynamics and kinematics simulations pretty well. Two dynamics engines, Bullet and ODE , are present and the user can choose which one suits to his need. It also allows the user to create his own user interfaces for the robots. V-REP has plenty of common robot models included as default.

Dr. Marc Freese from Coppelia Robotics explains the main strengths of V-REP compared to similar products: “V-REP allows the user to create virtually any robotic system quickly, thanks to a built-in script interpreter and more than 300 different API functions: sophisticated sensors, actuators or whole robots can be edited from within the simulator, which offers an integrated development environment. Created models can be reused by a simple drag-and-drop operation”.

ROS has a major share in the robotics research & development happening worldwide. Moreover, it has a super cool community support. More and more robots are being supported by ROS day by day. Plenty of core research in robotics algorithms, especially robot navigation, manipulation, cognitive robotics are  happening in ROS. The default simulator that comes with ROS is Gazebo.  But what i feel is that Gazebo is not as stable as V-REP and crashes often. Also Gazebo is resource hungry. It needs a decent machine to run Gazebo properly. Here comes the importance of V-REP. It is comparatively lightweight and runs fine even  on my personal laptop with no dedicated graphics card and an Intel Core2duo processor. V-REP has an extensive ROS API. So , the advantages of ROS and V-REP can be combined to result in a much better solution.

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