Wednesday, 10 June 2009

A Player/Stage Manual

Player/Stage is an open source robot simulator, which has become pretty much industry standard (at least in academia). It's a really powerful program that allows you to design a model of your robot and then write controlling code to make it do things in your simulation.
The really good thing about it is that the code you write to control your robot in simulation can also be used to control a REAL robot. Think about that for a moment... you can write a simulation and the same code that you simulate you can then put on to the robot. That's a wonderful thing!

The downside to Player/Stage is that it's a complete pig to learn to use. The online documentation has a lot of information, but very little of it is in enough depth for you to actually implement it yourself. This is understandable of course, it's an open source project the people who contribute to it generally contribute in ways to add functionality or to iron out any bugs. Trawlling through pages of documentation is no fun and no-one would willingly give up their spare time to do it. This leaves Player/Stage learners like me something of a problem when it comes to actually learning how to get things done.

Well, I've been learning on and off for the past few months and as I went, I wrote a manual to make the process easier for others in the future. At the moment the first draft is complete and I have someone learning to make simulations from it. So far the feedback is good but I expect I'll need to add more as I learn, things I've missed out, things I got wrong etc. After another re-drafting I'm going to try and submit it to the Player/Stage project to get as many people benefitting from my work as possible!

Watch this space...

EDIT: as of 13th July 2009 this manual has been finished and published! Finally a Player/Stage manual

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