Using ZED with ROS 2 and Isaac Sim

This tutorial guides you to configure the Isaac Sim ROS 2 Bridge to send simulated information to a ZED ROS 2 Wrapper node.

Install the dependencies #

Note: the installation guide is valid only for Ubuntu. For other OS please refer to the official NVIDIA documentation.

The Isaac Sim ROS 2 Bridge requires the Vision Messages ROS 2 package to run. You can install it by using the command

sudo apt install ros-humble-vision-msgs

If this dependency is not installed the ROS 2 Bridge extension will not start, and you will get an error message similar to this in the Isaac Sim log terminal:

2023-11-24 16:04:22 [73,377ms] [Error] [omni.isaac.ros2_bridge.plugin] Could not load ROS2 Bridge due to missing library dependencies, please make sure your sourced ROS2 workspace has the correct packages/libraries installed
[73.388s] To use the internal libraries included with the extension please set: 
Before starting Isaac Sim
2023-11-24 16:04:22 [73,377ms] [Error] [omni.isaac.ros2_bridge.scripts.extension] ROS2 Bridge startup failed

IMPORTANT: do not add the new path to LD_LIBRARY_PATH in ~/.bashrc as suggested, otherwise you will create conflicts between libraries that will not allow you to start rviz2 and other ROS 2 tools.

For additional details, we recommend reading the official NVIDIA documentation.

Setup the environment variables for ROS 2 #

Ensure that the ROS environment is sourced in the terminal or in your ~/.bashrc file before starting Isaac Sim:

source /opt/ros/humble/setup.bash

Note: if you want to launch Isaac Sim by using the Omniverse Launcher it is required that you add the line source /opt/ros/humble/setup.bash to ~/.bashrc to automatically configure the ROS 2 environment variables each time you open a terminal console. Otherwise, you must launch that command in the terminal console before manually starting Isaac Sim with the command which is located in the folder ~/.local/share/ov/pkg/isaac_sim-<version>/.

Initialize the simulator #

First of all, remember to select the correct ROS Bridge Extension when starting Isaac Sim: omni.isaac.ros2_bridge

Enable the ROS 2 Bridge Extension #

When Isaac Sim is ready you must enable the ROS2 Bridge extension.

  • Open the Extension view from the menu, Window -> Extensions.
  • Search for ROS2 Bridge by using the search form in the top left.
  • Click the DISABLED switch to set it to ENABLED.
  • [Optional] Flag the AUTOLOAD option to avoid performing these initialization steps each time you start Isaac Sim.

Enable the ZED Extension #

The ZED Camera Extension is required to send the simulated ZED images to the ZED ROS 2 Wrapper.

  • Open the Extension view from the menu, Window -> Extensions.
  • Search for “ZED” by using the search form in the top left.
    • Select THIRD PARTY if you have installed the extension from the GitHub repository (see here for adding the extension if it’s not available).
  • Click the DISABLED switch to set it to ENABLED.
  • [Optional] Flag the AUTOLOAD option to avoid performing these initialization steps each time you start Isaac Sim.

Add a scenario to the Stage #

The ZED camera is a visual sensor, so it’s important to add an environment that is rich in visual features for a good simulation experience.

Isaac Sim provides ready environments to be used, from Create -> Isaac -> Environments you can select for example the environment named Small Warehouse with Multiple Shelves.

If you are using Nucleus and you created a local server, a web page will open with a form to insert some user credentials. If it’s the first that you use it, you must create a new user, and then use the new credentials to login to the server.

Wait for the simulator to load the environment. This task can take a while, according to the dimension of the environment that you selected.

When all the object of the scene are finally loaded, the simulator will display the selected environment from the default point of view of the viewport camera.

Add a ZED camera to the scene #

The ZED X model will be available in the Isaac Assets tab on the bottom panel, with the latest versions of the Isaac Sim app.

If you cannot find the ZED X Model, then you can manually add it by cloning the GitHub repository:

cd <your_workspace>
git clone

Select the model ZED_X.usd and drag it in the Viewport to place it in the position that you prefer.

A new prim named ZED_X will appear in the Stage view as a child of World.

The ZED_X prim has an important XForm named base_link, this is the reference frame of the mounting point on the bottom of the camera.

Enable the ZED camera #

The data streaming is activated by using the Omnigraph node ZED Camera streamer.

  • Create a new Action Graph, Create -> Visual Scripting -> Action Graph.
  • Add a new node of type On Playback Tick to the graph. You can easily search for it by writing Tick in the search form.
  • Type ZED in the search form and drag the ZED Camera Streamer node into the graph.
  • Connect the ExecIn input of ZED Camera Streamer to the Tick output of the On Playback Tick node.

  • Click on the ZED Camera Streamer in the graph and select the Property tab on the right.
  • Click + Add Target near ZED Camera prim.
  • Select the root XForm named ZED_X and hit Select.

Publish simulation time to ROS 2 #

When working with simulated data, the ROS 2 nodes cannot rely on the system clock to timestamp the data accurately. Instead, they have to use the simulation time, which can be faster or slower than the real time.

To handle this behavior, Isaac Sim ROS 2 Bridge provides a method to publish messages to the /clock topic with simulation time data.

All the ROS 2 nodes have a parameter named use_sim_time. When this parameter is set to true, each ROS 2 node subscribes to the /clock topic, and uses the simulation time as the reference for time instead of the system time.

  • Select the Action Graph tab in the bottom panel.
  • Add a new node of type Isaac Read Simulation Time.
    • [Optional] Click on the Isaac Read Simulation Time.
    • [Optional] Select the Properties tab in the right panel.
    • [Optional] Check the Reset on stop option to reset to zero the simulation time each time the simulation is stopped and restarted.
  • Add a new node of type ROS2 Publish Clock.
  • Connect the Tick output of the On Playback Tick node to the ExecIn input of ROS2 Publish Clock.
  • Connect the Simulation Time output of the Isaac Read Simulation Time node to the Time Stamp input of ROS2 Publish Clock.

  • Start the simulation by hitting the Play button on the left panel

Now you can verify that the configuration is valid:

  • open a Terminal console (Ctrl + Alt + t).
  • enter the command ros2 topic echo /clock.
  • verify that the /clock topic is correctly published:
$ ros2 topic echo /clock
  sec: 6
  nanosec: 900000359
  sec: 6
  nanosec: 916667027
  sec: 6
  nanosec: 933333694
  sec: 6
  nanosec: 950000362
  • stop listening to the /clock topic with Ctrl+c.

Start the ZED ROS 2 Wrapper node with simulated data #

The ZED ROS 2 Wrapper enables connection to the ZED Isaac Sim Extension, publishing ZED data in ROS 2 as if a real camera is present.

Prerequisites #

The “ZED ROS 2 Wrapper” and the “ZED ROS 2 Examples” packages must be installed in the system.

Follow the relative guides to install them if not already done:

Launch the ZED ROS 2 node #

Launch a standalone ZED ROS 2 node with simulated ZED data as input:

ros2 launch zed_wrapper camera_model:=zedx sim_mode:=true use_sim_time:=true

Launch options:

  • [Mandatory] sim_mode: start the ZED node in simulation mode if true.
  • [Mandatory] use_sim_time: force the node to wait for valid messages on the topic /clock, and use the simulation time as the reference.
  • [Optional] sim_address: set the address of the simulation server. Default is and it’s valid if the node runs on the same machine as the simulator.
  • [Optional] sim_port: set the port of the simulation server. It must match the value of the field Streaming Port of the properties of the ZED camera streamer Action Graph node. A different Streaming Port value for each camera is required in multi-camera simulations.

camera_model is currently limited to zedx. We are working to support other models in the near future.

You can also start a preconfigured instance of rviz2 to visualize all the information available in simulation by using the command:

ros2 launch zed_display_rviz2 camera_model:=zedx sim_mode:=true use_sim_time:=true

the launch file includes the launch file, so it provides the same parameters.

You can get the list of all the available launch parameters by using the -s launch option:

$ ros2 launch zed_wrapper -s
$ ros2 launch zed_display_rviz2 -s

Here’s an example of rviz2 running with the simulated information obtained by placing the ZED camera on a shelf of a simulated warehouse: