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Installing/Setting up ROS

You will need to install ROS on both the companion computer and the base station laptop. Check out the official ROS Installation page for details on how to do this.

Currently only the long-term support ROS Kinetic and ROS Melodic releases are supported, with the recommended operating system being Ubuntu 16.04 and 18.04 respectively. If storage and/or hardware resources are limited on your companion computer, you can install the bare-bones ROS package (e.g. ros-kinetic-ros-base) instead of the full desktop version.

Installing ROSflight

You will need to install the ROSflight packages on both the companion computer and the base station computer. The companion computer will run the node that actually communicates with the flight controller over a serial connection, while the base station needs the message and service definitions to be able to call services or subscribe and publish to topics.

From the apt Repository

The recommended installation method for Ubuntu or Debian systems is to use the ROSflight packages in the official ROS apt repositories. If you have configured your system to use these repositories, as described in the ROS installation guide, you can install rosflight using the following, inserting the name of the ROS release you are using (e.g. "kinetic" or "melodic"):

sudo apt install ros-<ros_release>-rosflight-pkgs

The previous command will install all of the rosflight packages, including the Gazebo simulation packages. If installing on a companion computer with limited resources, you can instead install only rosflight_io:

sudo apt install ros-<ros_release>-rosflight

From Source

If you prefer, or if binary packages are not available for your distribution or system architecture, you can install the ROSflight packages from source instead. First, set up a catkin workspace by following the directions here.


In order to ensure that new terminal windows are configured to use this workspace, you can add the line source ~/catkin_ws/devel/setup.bash to your ~/.bashrc file or its equivalent on other systems. (Change the path if your workspace is located somewhere other than ~/catkin_ws.)

Next, download the source code into your workspace. Assuming that your workspace is located at ~/catkin_ws:

cd ~/catkin_ws/src
git clone
Pull down the submodules (there is a triple-layer submodule setup in the rosflight metapackage, so you have to remember the --recursive argument):
cd rosflight
git submodule update --init --recursive
Install dependencies:
cd ~/catkin_ws/src
rosdep -y install --ignore-src --from-path rosflight
Finally, build the packages:
cd ~/catkin_ws

Running rosflight_io

The rosflight_io node is the bridge between ROS and the MAVLink communication with the flight controller. This node must be run on the computer that has the physical serial connection to your flight controller. To run this node, use something like the following command (after starting a roscore):

rosrun rosflight rosflight_io _port:=/dev/ttyACM0
Replace /dev/ttyACM0 with the port your flight controller is connected to. The rosflight_io node could also be started from within a launch file with something like
<node pkg="rosflight" type="rosflight_io" name="rosflight_io" output="screen">
  <param name="port" value="/dev/ttyACM0"/>


The optional (but recommended) output="screen" option ensures that status messages from rosflight_io will be forwarded to the console from which you call roslaunch.

For details on all parameters, topics, and services related to the rosflight_io node, refer to the documentation on the ROS wiki.

Jetson TX2


As of Jetpack 4.2, with the CTI-L4T patch installed to use the TX2 mounted on a CTI Orbitty carrier board, the three drivers mentioned here are installed out of the box.

It is likely that your Flip32/Naze32 board doesn't work correctly out of the box with the TX2. To fix this, you need to build some drivers in with the kernel. This process is pretty straight-forward.

To build the kernel with additional USB drivers, follow the instructions and video found here. This video shows the CH341 module being added. However, there are a few additional drivers you will likely require. These include:

  • USB Winchiphead CH341 Single Port Serial Driver
  • USB Modem (CDC ACM) support
  • USB CP210x family of UART Bridge Controllers

After following the instructions to add these drivers, reboot your TX2 and your USB devices should show up in /dev/ttyUSB or /dev/ttyACM as you would expect.