Simulating Boxer

Boxer Simulation

Whether you actually have a Boxer robot or not, the Boxer simulator is a great way to get started with ROS robot development. In this tutorial, we will go through the basics of starting Gazebo and Rviz and how to drive your Boxer around.


Before you can use this tutorial, make sure you have installed Boxer’s software, including the boxer_simulation package.

Launch Gazebo

Gazebo is the most common simulation tool used in ROS. Boxer’s model in Gazebo include reasonable approximations of its dynamics, including wheel slippage, skidding, and inertia. To launch simulated Boxer in a simple example world, run the following command:

roslaunch boxer_gazebo boxer_world.launch

You should see the following window appear, or something like it. You can adjust the camera angle by clicking and dragging while holding CTRL, ALT, or the shift key:

Simulated Boxer in the Race World.

The window which you are looking at is the Gazebo Client. This window shows you the “true” state of the simulated world which the robot exists in. It communicates on the backend with the Gazebo Server, which is doing the heavy lifting of actually maintaining the simulated world. At the moment, you’re running both the client and server locally on your own machine, but some advanced users may choose to run heavy duty simulations on separate hardware and connect to them over the network.


When simulating Boxer, you must leave Gazebo running. Closing Gazebo will prevent other tools, such as rviz (see below) from working correctly.

Launch rviz

The next tool we will encounter is rviz. Although superficially similar in appearance to Gazebo, rviz has a very different purpose— unlike Gazebo, which shows the reality of the simulated world, rviz shows the robot’s perception of its world, whether real or simulated. So while Gazebo won’t be used with your real Boxer, rviz is used with both.

You can using the following launch invocation to start rviz with a pre-cooked configuration suitable for visualizing any standard Boxer config:

roslaunch boxer_viz view_robot.launch

You should see rviz appear:

Boxer with laser scanner in rviz.

The visualization shows the depth data from the base platform’s RealSense camera (the rainbow-colored points) as well as the data from the front and rear lidars.

Controlling Boxer

What is shown, however, is Boxer’s interactive markers. These are the simplest way to command your robot to move around. If you don’t see them in your rviz display, select the Interact tool from the top toolbar. You should see red arrows and a blue circle appear around the Boxer model.

Drag the red arrows in Rviz to move in the linear x and the blue circle to move in the angular z. Rviz shows you Boxer moving relative to its odometric frame, but it is also moving relative to the simulated world supplied by Gazebo. If you click over to the Gazebo window, you will see Boxer moving within its simulated world. Or, if you drive real Boxer using this method, it will have moved in the real world.

All of Clearpath’s robots use the same coordinate system, shown below:



Positive Meaning

Negative Meaning


Linear motion forwards

Linear motion backwards


Linear motion left

Linear motion right


Linear motion up

Linear motion down

X^ (roll)

Roll to the right

Roll to the left

Y^ (pitch)

Pitch down

Pitch up

Z^ (yaw)

Rotate left

Rotate right

Boxer, in its default configuration, will treat the linear Y & Z axes, as well a the angular X & Y axes, as zero at all times; the robot is incapable of moving in these directions.

Once you start your own development, have your nodes send geometry_msgs/Twist commands to the cmd_vel topic to drive Boxer, either real or simulated. This is the standard ROS interface to differential-drive and holonomic ground vehicles.

The geometry_msgs/Twist message includes fields for linear X/Y/Z in m/s, as well as fields for angular X/Y/Z in rad/s.

$ rosmsg info geometry_msgs/Twist
geometry_msgs/Vector3 linear
  float64 x
  float64 y
  float64 z
geometry_msgs/Vector3 angular
  float64 x
  float64 y
  float64 z

You can also use a game controller to drive your robot. Connect your controller using either a USB cable or Bluetooth as appropriate and then launch the teleop node by running:

roslaunch boxer_control teleop.launch joy_dev:=/dev/input/js0

Replace /dev/input/js0 with the joy device you wish to use as input. By default boxer_control accepts input from /dev/input/ps4 unless another device is specified. If you use a PS4 controller, you can install the python-ds4drv package through apt to install the appropriate udev rules to map your PS4 controller’s js* device to /dev/input/ps4:

sudo apt-get install python-ds4drv

If you use a different game controller, e.g. an Xbox controller or Logitech F710 you will need to specify the device using the joy_dev:=/dev/input/js* argument, described earlier.

Regardless of the controller, Axis 0 controls the robot’s steering, Axis 1 controls the forward/backward velocity, and button 4 acts as enably. On common controllers these correspond to the following physical controls:


Physical Input



Xbox One

Axis 0

Left thumb stick horizontal




Axis 1

Left thumb stick vertical




Button 4

Left shoulder button or trigger




Additional Simulation Environments

Boxer is supported by Clearpath’s additional simulation environments. To use these environments, clone the repository into your workspace and build it:

cd $HOME/catkin_ws/src
git clone -b noetic-devel
cd ..
rosdep install --from-paths src --ignore-src --rosdistro=noetic -r
source devel/setup.bash

Note that you may get warnings about missing dependencies for e.g. warthog_gazebo or jackal_gazebo. These dependencies are only needed if you intend to simulate Clearpath’s other robotic platforms in these environments. If you only intend to simulate Boxer, you can safely ignore these missing dependencies.

Because Boxer is an indoor platform, it is only usable in the cpr_office_gazebo and cpr_obstacle_gazebo environments

To launch Boxer in the office environment, use

roslaunch cpr_office_gazebo office_world.launch platform:=boxer
Boxer in the office simulation

To launch Boxer in the obstacle environment, use

roslaunch cpr_obstacle_gazebo cpr_obstacle_world.launch  platform:=boxer
Boxer in the obstacle simulation