Getting Started with ROS 2 and ZED

The ZED ROS2 wrapper lets you use the ZED stereo cameras with the second version of ROS. It provides access to the following data:

  • Left and right rectified/unrectified images
  • Depth data
  • Colored 3D point cloud
  • IMU data
  • Visual odometry: Position and orientation of the camera
  • Pose tracking: Position and orientation of the camera fixed and fused with IMU data (ZED-M only)



  • Ubuntu 16.04 or Ubuntu 18.04 (support for Windows 10 will be provided soon)
  • ZED SDK v2.6 or later
  • CUDA dependency
  • ROS2 Crystal Clemmys :

Build the package

The zed_ros2_wrapper is a colcon package. It depends on the following ROS2 packages:

  • ament_cmake
  • ament_index_cpp
  • class_loader
  • lifecycle_msgs
  • rclcpp_lifecycle
  • sensor_msgs
  • tf2
  • tf2_ros
  • tf2_geometry_msgs
  • nav_msgs
  • stereo_msgs
  • urdf
  • robot_state_publisher
  • message_runtime

Note: If you haven’t set up your colcon workspace yet, please follow this tutorial.

To install the zed_ros2_wrapper, open a bash terminal, clone the package from Github, and build it.

It is very important to follow the correct compiling order to guarantee that all the dependencies are respected:

$ cd ~/ros2_ws/src/ #use your current ros2 workspace folder
$ git clone
$ cd ..
$ colcon build --symlink-install --packages-select stereolabs_zed_interfaces --cmake-args=-DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release
$ source ./install/local_setup.bash
$ colcon build --symlink-install --packages-select stereolabs_zed --cmake-args=-DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release
$ source ./install/local_setup.bash
$ colcon build --symlink-install --cmake-args=-DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release
$ echo source $(pwd)/install/local_setup.bash >> ~/.bashrc
$ source ~/.bashrc

Note: The option --symlink-install is very important. It allows to use symlinks instead of copying files to the ROS2 folders during the installation, where possible. Each package in ROS2 must be installed and all the files used by the nodes must be copied into the installation folders. Using symlinks allows you to modify them in your workspace, reflecting the modification during the next executions without the needing to issue a new colcon build command. This is true only for all the files that don’t need to be compiled (Python launch scripts, YAML configurations, etc).

Note: If you are using a different console interface like zsh, you have to change the source command as follows: echo source $(pwd)/install/local_setup.zsh >> ~/.zshrc and source ~/.zshrc.

Error: If an error mentioning /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ blocks compilation, use the following command to repair the libEGl symlink before restarting the colcon command:

#Only on libEGL error
$ sudo rm /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/; sudo ln /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/

Starting the ZED node

The ZED is available in ROS2 as a lifecycle managed node that publishes its data to ROS2 topics. You can get the full list of the available topics here.

To start the ZED node, open a terminal and use the CLI command ros2 launch:

$ ros2 launch stereolabs_zed

The is a Python launch script that automatically manages the lifecycle state transitions of the ZED ROS2 node. You can run the launch script if you want to manually control the state of the node. For a full guide about how to manually manage the lifecycle states of the ZED ROS2 node, please follow the lifecycle tutorial

Note: You can set your own configurations modifying the parameters in the files common.yaml, zed.yaml and zedm.yaml available in the folder zed_wrapper/config. For a full descriptions of each parameter, follow the complete guide here.

Displaying ZED data

Using RVIZ2

RVIZ2 is a useful visualization tool in ROS2. Using RVIZ2, you can visualize the left and right images acquired by the ZED cameras, the depth image and the 3D colored point cloud.

Launch the ZED wrapper along with RVIZ using the following command:

$ ros2 launch zed_rviz

If you are using a ZED-M camera:

$ roslaunch zed_rviz

Note: If you haven’t yet configured your own RVIZ interface, you can find a detailed tutorial here.

Displaying Images

The ZED node publishes both original and stereo rectified (aligned) left and right images. In RVIZ, select a topic and use the image preview mode.

Here is the list of the available image topics:

  • zed/zed_node/rgb/image_rect_color: Color rectified image (left image by default)
  • zed/zed_node/rgb/image_raw_color: Color unrectified image (left image by default)
  • zed/zed_node/right/image_rect_color: Color rectified right image
  • zed/zed_node/right/image_raw_color: Color unrectified right image
  • zed/zed_node/left/image_rect_color: Color rectified left image
  • zed/zed_node/left/image_raw_color: Color unrectified left image
  • zed/zed_node/confidence/confidence_image: Confidence map as image

Note: The Confidence Map is also available as a 32bit floating point image subscribing to the zed/zed_node/confidence/confidence_map topic.

Displaying Depth

The depth map can be displayed in RVIZ subscribing to the following topic:

  • zed/zed_node/depth/depth_registered: 32-bit depth values in meters. RVIZ will normalize the depth map on 8-bit and display it as a grayscale depth image.

Note: An OpenNI compatibility mode is available modifying the config/common.yaml file. Set depth.openni_depth_mode to 1 to get depth in millimeters with 16-bit precision, then restart the ZED node.

Displaying the Point cloud

A 3D colored point cloud can be displayed in RVIZ2 subscribing to the zed/zed_node/point_cloud/cloud_registered topic.

Add it in RVIZ2 with point_cloud -> cloud -> PointCloud2. Note that displaying point clouds slows down RVIZ2, so open a new instance if you want to display other topics.


The ZED position and orientation in space over time is published to the following topics:

  • zed/zed_node/odom: Odometry pose referred to odometry frame (only visual odometry is applied for ZED, visual-inertial for ZED-M)
  • zed/zed_node/pose: Camera pose referred to Map frame (complete data fusion algorithm is applied)
  • zed/zed_node/pose_with_covariance: Camera pose referred to Map frame with covariance (if spatial_memory is false in launch parameters)
  • zed/zed_node/path_odom: The sequence of camera odometry poses in Map frame
  • zed/zed_node/path_map: The sequence of camera poses in Map frame

Important: By default, RVIZ does not display odometry data correctly. Open the newly created Odometry object in the left list, and set Position Tolerance and Angle Tolerance to 0, and Keep to1.



Launching with a recorded SVO video

With the ZED, you can record and play back stereo video using Stereolabs’ .SVO file format. To record a sequence, open the ZED Explorer app (/usr/local/zed/tools) and click on the REC button.

To launch the ROS wrapper with an SVO file, set the path of the SVO in the launch parameter general.svo_file in the file config/common.yaml.

Note: add a # in front of the general.svo_file parameter to use an USB3 connected device, YAML does not allow to set an empty string parameter.

Important: Use only full paths to the SVO file. Relative paths are not allowed.

Dynamic reconfigure

You can dynamically change many configuration parameters during the execution of the ZED node:

  • general.mat_resize_factor: Sets the scale factor of the output images and depth map. Note that the camera will acquire data at the dimension set by the general.resolution parameter; images are resized before being sent to the user
  • video.auto_exposure: Enables/disables automatic gain and exposure
  • video.exposure: Sets camera exposure only if auto_exposure is false
  • video.gain: Sets camera gain only if auto_exposure is false
  • depth.confidence: Sets a threshold that filters the values of the depth or the point cloud. With a confidence threshold set to 100, all depth values will be written to the depth and the point cloud. This is set to 80 by default, which removes the least accurate values.
  • depth.max_depth: Sets the maximum depth range

You can set the parameters using the CLI command ros2 param set, e.g.:

$ ros2 param set /zed/zed_node depth.confidence 80

if the parameter is successfully set you will get a confirmation message:

Set parameter successful

If you try to set a parameter that’s not dynamically reconfigurable, or if you provided an invalid value, you will get this error:

$ ros2 param set /zed/zed_node depth.confidence 150
Set parameter failed

and the ZED node will report a warning message explaining the error type:

1538556595.265117561: [zed.zed_node] [WARN]	The param 'depth.confidence' requires an INTEGER value in the range ]0,100]