RobWorkProject  20.10.1-
User Manual (C++)

This manual contains the remaning Doxygen documentation not yet moved to Sphinx documentation.

RobWork Task Format

RobWork includes an abstract task format which can be used to represent, save and load tasks. The basic rwlibs::task::Task is templated and can either store rw::math::Q or rw::math::Transform3D as targets.

A task in RobWork is basically a 2-tuple which can be described as

Task={(Target)*, (Motion|Action|Task)*}

The elements in a task are

  • Target: Typically representing either a Cartesian pose or a robot configuration using rw::math::Transform3D and rw::math::Q, respectively.
  • Motion: Describes a motion/transition between targets. A target may be shared among any number of motions.
  • Action: Has no fixed interpretation and can be used to specify events such as open/close gripper, acquire image or as synchronization point.
  • Task: Tasks are recursive. Subtasks may be shared among multiple tasks.

The example below illustrated how to construct a small task, prints out the task, saves it to file, reloads it and prints it once again.

#include <rwlibs/task/Task.hpp>
#include <rwlibs/task/Motion.hpp>
#include <rwlibs/task/Action.hpp>
#include <rwlibs/task/Target.hpp>
#include <iostream>
using namespace rw::math;
using namespace rw::core;
using namespace rwlibs::task;
void printMotion(QMotion::Ptr motion) {
switch (motion->motionType()) {
case MotionType::P2P: {
QP2PMotion::Ptr p2p = motion.cast<QP2PMotion>();
std::cout<<"Got P2P Motion from "<<p2p->start()<<" to "<<p2p->end()<<std::endl;
break; }
case MotionType::Linear: {
std::cout<<"Got Linear Motion from "<<lin->start()<<" to "<<lin->end()<<std::endl;
break; }
void printAction(Action::Ptr action) {
std::cout<<"Got Action of type = "<<action->getId()<<std::endl;
void printTask(QTask::Ptr task) {
std::vector<Entity::Ptr> entities = task->getEntities();
for (std::vector<Entity::Ptr>::iterator it = entities.begin(); it != entities.end(); ++it) {
Entity::Ptr entity = *it;
switch (entity->entityType()) {
case EntityType::Motion: {
QMotion::Ptr motion = entity.cast<QMotion>();
break; }
case EntityType::Action: {
Action::Ptr action = entity.cast<Action>();
break; }
case EntityType::Task: {
QTask::Ptr task = entity.cast<QTask>();
break; }
int main() {
//Construct a Task
QTask::Ptr task = ownedPtr(new QTask());
rw::math::Q q1(1); q1(0) = 1;
rw::math::Q q2(1); q2(0) = 2;
rw::math::Q q3(1); q3(0) = 3;
std::vector<QTarget::Ptr>& targets = task->getTargets();
task->addMotion(ownedPtr(new QP2PMotion(targets[0], targets[1])));
task->addMotion(ownedPtr(new QLinearMotion(targets[1], targets[2])));
task->addAction(ownedPtr(new Action(ActionType::On)));
TaskSaver::Ptr saver = TaskSaver::Factory::getTaskSaver("xml");
saver->save(task, "MyTask.xml");
TaskLoader::Ptr loader = TaskLoader::Factory::getTaskLoader("xml");
QTask::Ptr task2 = loader->getQTask();
return 0;


Se Sphinx documentation, this is remaning Doxygen documentation not yet moved to Sphinx documentation.

RobWorkStudio specific frame properties

Through generic properties in the XML and TUL workcell file format, RobWork allows for adding user specific information to frames. In this section RobWorkStudio specific properties will be listed. Meaning properties that only makes sence for RobWorkStudio and not RobWork.

Camera property

A property describing a camera pinhole model can be added to a frame. The camera view can then be visualized in RobWorkStudio. The property string looks like this:

"<Field of view Y> <width> <height>"


<Property name="Camera">60 640 480</Property>

You can currently only change views between cameras using Ctrl + the key [1-9], were 1 is the default 3rd person view.


  • Multiple cameras are supported but only one camera property per frame!
  • The width and height has no real dimension its the proportion between them that matters
  • The camera looks in the negative Z-axis direction of the frame
  • Field of view is in degree and is defined in the Y-axis

Usefull examples

Adding new frames to the workcell from a plugin

This example describe how one can add his own frames to the workcell through a user plugin.

Adding frames to the workcell is possible through the StateStructure instance that is located in a WorkCell. It is important to understand that adding frames to the state structure will change the static state structure of the workcell (the dynamic state is that which is located in the State object). Changing the static structure will not directly influence State objects, that is they are still valid for all frames except the newly added frames. There exist two methods of making an old state valid for new frames. One is to just assign the old state with a new one. Though, this will also overwrite any state information that was saved in the old state, say the configuration of tour robot. If you want to preserve the information in the old state and still make it valid for newly added frames you would need to upgrade it. You can upgrade a state oldstate using either StateStructure instance stateStruct or another state newstate. Following is an example of how:

// using another state to upgrade
oldstate.upgradeTo(newstate); // oldstate is upgraded to the structure of the newstate
// using state structure to upgrade
oldstate = stateStruct.upgrade( oldstate );

Following is an example of how to add a new frame to the workcell from your own plugin

State oldState; // this is your old state
Frame *newFrame = make_new_frame(); // create your frame
// now update the oldState with the new state
oldState = getRobWorkStudio()->getWorkCell()->getStructure()->upgradeState(oldState);
// now this is VERY important, remember to update the RobWorkStudio state



RobWorkSim is a dynamic simulation framework in C++ developed as an add-on for RobWork and RobWorkStudio. RobWorkSim is used for research and education as well as for practical robot applications. Features of the library include:

  • Dynamic modeling of various types of industrial manipulators.
  • Grasp table generation for grasp planning applications.
  • Simulation of tactile sensors as well as all sensors supported by RobWork (Vision and Range scanners)
  • Resting pose calculations
  • Stable configuration calculations

Target audience of RobWorkSim is:

  • Implementers who needs a framework for process simulation or validation of algorithms

RobWorkSim is developed at the robotics department of the Maersk McKinney Moller Institute at the University of Southern Denmark. The focus of the department is on industrial robots and their applications.


The header files of RobWorkSim are distributed across a number of directories each having its own namespace. The structure of namespaces reflects the directory containing the code. For example

// Include header files:
#include <rwsim/dynamics/RigidBody.hpp>
using namespace rwsim::dynamics;
using namespace rwsim::PDController;

This structure is the same as RobWork and RobWorkStudio.


Install and Use

Functionality in RobWorkSim depends heavilly on RobWork and RobworkStudio for GUI and specific plugins. As such, it is recommended to install these before installing RobWorkSim.

Concepts and Overview

The primary use of RobWorkSim evolves around specifying a DynamicWorkCell (scene with dynamic information) from which a Simulator instance is created which then is used to do the actual simulation.

The DynamicWorkCell is conceptually the same as the RobWork WorkCell class and extends the WorkCell description with focus on describing the dynamic properties of the scene. It is basically a container that includes a hierarchy description of the scene including: bodies, obstacles, frames, devices, controllers, sensors and their mutual attachment to each other.

The DynamicWorkCell is "stateless" in the same sense that the WorkCell is stateless, which means that typical state values such as force of a rigid body are saved in a state structure and not in the actual object. The following code snippet exemplifies this:

RigidBody *b1 = getBody1(); // illustrative function "getBody1()"
State stateA = getState();
State stateB = getState();
b1->setForce( Vector3D<>(0,0,1), stateA );
b1->setForce( Vector3D<>(2,2,2), stateB );
std::cout << b1->getForce(stateA); // prints (0,0,1)
std::cout << b1->getForce(stateB); // prints (2,2,2)

Not all variables of our "stateless" objects are saved in the state structure since they are considered to change infrequently. An example of this is getMass() on RigidBody. As such a rule of thumb is that frequently changing variables such as position, velocity and force will allways be saved in the state structure. Infrequently changing variables will be saved in the object instance, e.g. mass, material info, geometry, nr of joints, position limits, force limits and so on.

The stateless nature of DynamicWorkCell makes it possible to use it in multiple threads or methods at the same time and without bothering with cloning and copying of the DynamicWorkCell. However, one should be carefull to change the "static" variables when using multiple threads since these changes will influence all uses of the variable. For more indepth description of the StateStructure the reader is directed to the RobWork manual.

Now the DynamicWorkCell can be constructed in c++ or as is done more often through the XML based DynamicWorkCell file format described in section sec_rwsim_xml_fileformat. A Simulator is created with an instance of the DynamicWorkCell and is then ready for use. A typical use is exemplified below:

// create and initialize simulator
DynamicWorkCell::Ptr dwc = getDynamicWorkCell();
DynamicSimulator *sim = makeSimulator( );
sim->initPhysics( dwc );
// set the current state
sim->resetState( initState );
// now do a simulation
while( someStopCriteria ){
// apply forces/velocities to bodies and devices using controllers
sim->step( 0.01, state);
// monitor contacts and states using sensors or the State
// do something usefull with "resting" state

The Simulator is not stateless and to do simulations in parallel you should create multiple instances of the simulator.

The simulation is run one step at the time using relatively small timesteps e.g. [0.001s;0.01s]. The "best" timestep depends on the underlying physics engine, the current scene, and the application. Please look at section The DynamicSimulator for more information.

There are two constructs designed for getting feedback and influencing the simulation. These are the SimulatedSensor and the SimulatedController. The controller enables "control" of bodies and devices or other states in the simulation, where as the sensor enables getting appropriate feedback, e.g. tactile, visual or other states. Typically used methods such as applying forces to bodies or setting the velocity of a device are available on the Body/Device interface and does not require controllers or sensors.


The DynamicSimulator

Timestep, ThreadSimulator, PhysicsEngine, PhysicsEngineFactory, EnableBody,

The simulation loop

Ptr< S > cast()
Cast the smart pointer to a different type.
Definition: core/Ptr.hpp:129
rw::models::WorkCell::Ptr getWorkcell()
Returns the workcell opened in RobWorkStudio.
rw::kinematics::Frame Frame
The type of node of forward kinematic trees.
Definition: src/rwlibs/swig/ScriptTypes.hpp:284
Specification of an action in a task.
Definition: Action.hpp:108
Interface for loaders of the task format.
void setState(const rw::kinematics::State &state)
Sets the current state of for RobWorkStudio.
Class describing point to point motions.
Definition: Motion.hpp:212
Configuration vector.
Definition: Q.hpp:37
rw::kinematics::State State
The state of a work cell (or kinematics tree).
Definition: src/rwlibs/swig/ScriptTypes.hpp:292
Specified the template based interface of a motion.
Definition: Motion.hpp:138
Ptr stores a pointer and optionally takes ownership of the value.
Definition: ThreadPool.hpp:33
Template based implementation of Task.
Definition: AssemblyResult.hpp:35
Class describing linear motions.
Definition: Motion.hpp:299
Interface for savers of the task format.
Matrices, vectors, configurations, and more.
Definition: core/math_fwd.hpp:38
rw::models::WorkCell::Ptr getWorkCell()
Returns the workcell opened in RobWorkStudio.
Definition: rws/RobWorkStudio.hpp:132