An autonomous parade float/vehicle
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An autonomous parade vehicle, modeled after Georgia Tech's Rambling Wreck


A list of available nodes and an overview of the architecture is available here.



To get started, be running Ubuntu 14.04 (required for ROS Indigo) with python 2.7 installed. Then run:

mkdir -p ~/catkin_ws/src
cd ~/catkin_ws/src
git clone
cd buzzmobile

If you already have ROS Indigo installed, you can just clone directly into ~/catkin/src/ and run the install script. If you want to manually install ROS Indigo you can follow the tutorial here.

The install script will create a virtualenv, install system dependencies (including ROS Indigo), install python dependencies, build the package, and source all required files. It will also put the rosinit, rosdevel and rosvenv aliases in your .bashrc.

To use the google maps api, you'll need two api keys. Put one under buzzmobile/sense/maps_querier/ and one under buzzmobile/tools/route_mapper/ as shown below. Note that the keys need to have proper permissions set in the Google API Console, for use of the Google Maps API and the Google Maps Static API, respectively.


To use the gps and the lidar nodes, you will need user permissions to directly access the usb ports for gps and lidar. For that, do:

sudo usermod -aG dialout <YOUR USERNAME>

You will then need to log in and out again. Simply starting a new terminal is not sufficient. The Linux kernel will not refresh groups until the user completely logs out and logs in again.


Make sure you are running inside the virtualenvironment, or things will appear broken: rosvenv.

To start running, you must first run catkin_make from the ~/catkin_ws dir. If there aren't any issues with the build, you can run roscore to start the main ROS process.

Create new tabs for every node and run them as such:

rosrun buzzmobile
rosrun buzzmobile edge_detector
rosparam set usb_cam/pixel_format yuyv
rosrun usb_cam usb_cam_node

Note that rospy nodes don't require catkin_make to run, but do require the .py extension. If you're writing a new rospy node, also make sure the file is made executable, and has #!/usr/bin/env python as its first line.

chmod +x path/to/  # make sure file has shebang
rosrun buzzmobile

Some nodes require parameters that are defined in the buzzmobile/constants.yaml file. To load those constants as rosparams, do:

rosparam load ~/catkin_ws/src/buzzmobile/buzzmobile/constants.yaml

If you want to visualize your nodes, you can run the ROS visualizer (rviz), image_view, or rqt_gui. These three have different ways of visualizing messages being published:

rosrun rviz rviz
rosrun image_view image_view image:=some_imgmsg
rosrun rqt_gui rqt_gui

To load the buzzmobile mission control, load rqt_gui with the mission control perspective (configuration) file:

rosrun rqt_gui rqt_gui --perspective-file=buzzmobile/tools/mission_control/Default.perspective

To run the GPS node, do:

rosrun nmea_navsat_driver nmea_serial_driver _port:=/dev/ttyUSB0 _baud:=4800

To run the Lidar node, do:

rosrun hokuyo_node hokuyo_node port:=/dev/ttyACM0

Note that /dev/ttyUSB0 and /dev/ttyACM0 are the default serial ports for GPS and Lidar respectively. These may or may not be different. Here are some useful commands for debugging if things aren't set up correctly:

ls -l /dev/ttyACM0  # List permissions. Will output failure if /dev/ttyACM0 is not set.
sudo chmod a+rw /dev/ttyACM0  # Sets read/write permissions for all users, not recommended.

If you need to mock a polyline, this tool will be useful: google polyline util


If you want to record the messages being outputted by certain nodes, you can use rosbag:

mkdir ~/bagfiles
cd ~/bagfiles
rosbag record -O filename /message/name

To see info about the recorded data, do rosbag info filename.bag

To play the data (and publish those messages), do rosbag play test.bag. To play in a loop, just add the -l flag.


If you ever need to add ros dependencies, add them to buzzmobile/packages.xml and install them with:

cd ~/catkin_ws/src
rosdep install -y --from-paths ./buzzmobile/buzzmobile --ignore-src --rosdistro=indigo

If you need to add python deps, make sure you're in the virtual environment (rosvenv), then add the dep to buzzmobile/ and do:

cd ~/catkin_ws/src/buzzmobile
pip install -e buzzmobile

Alternatively, you can update both ros and python deps using:


Starting Car

To start car and prepare it for driving, perform the following steps:

  1. Connect the battery
  2. Flip the switch inside to turn the car on
  3. Ensure all e-stops are disabled. (Red buttons on front and back in out position and enabled via remote)
  4. Press the green button to start the motors (Car is now live)

The car starts in START mode where it receives no information. It must be switched to MANUAL or AUTO for it to drive. See 'Manual Mode Controls' for details on switching modes and operating the car.

Manual Mode Controls

The controller_node node outputs a CarPose message and a CarState message determined by input from a PS4 controller. To control these messages and operate the car manually using the controller, use the following controls:

  • Left Joystick: Change steering angle
  • R2 (Right Trigger): Change velocity
  • Square: Enable reverse. When this is held down, velocity is negated meaning the car will accelerate backwards.
  • X: Honk the horn
  • Home Button: Switch the car between AUTO and MANUAL modes.

The car starts in START mode. When pressed it will switch to MANUAL mode. Every subsequent press toggles between AUTO and MANUAL mode.


Testing is done with pytest. To run tests, you can run the script in ci_scripts/unittest, which will run all unit tests. If you want to run a specific test, make sure that the environment is initialized (run rosvenv, rosinit, and rosdevel) then run:

cd ~/catkin_ws/src/buzzmobile/buzzmobile
pytest tests/unit/path/to/

Be careful! Make sure not to run any tests from outside the inner buzzmobile/ dir, as that creates a name conflict in tests that try importing buzzmobile.std_msgs.

Also make sure not to run tests from the root directory of the project, as there is a virtualenv there: running pytest will attempt to run thousands of unittests included with the python interpreter.

To write additional unit tests, please place within buzzmobile/tests/unit in directories that match the source files, that is, tests for the buzzmobile/process/gps_mapper node should go in buzzmobile/tests/unit/process/ Integration and simulation tests should go in the buzzmobile/tests/integration and buzzmobile/tests/simulation test subdirectories respectively.

In order to use the test_util api for writing tests, please refeer to the readme in buzzmobile/buzzmobile/tests/test_utils/.