GSoC'23 Project Idea - ROS workbench for FreeCAD

Hi all,

I’d like to propose an idea for GSoC’23. Please find the description below.

Development of a ROS workbench for FreeCAD

The aim of this project is to develop a ROS workbench for FreeCAD.
FreeCAD is an open-source CAD system that can be extended via workbenches written in C++ or Python.
It is thus a great choice for a workbench to ease the work with ROS, which also offers bindings for both C++ and Python.
The project will be based on a preliminary ROS workbench developed by myself.

Student’s tasks

  • implement a script that exports a list of elementary objects, such as boxes, spheres, cylinders, meshes to the format of robot description used in ROS, URDF,
  • implement a FreeCAD object type to represent a robot,
  • implement a script that exports the newly developed robot object type to URDF into a proper ROS package,
  • implement a script that imports a robot description in URDF format into FreeCAD,
  • implement a tool to combine several URDF files and FreeCAD objects into one URDF file to describe a robot with a gripper for example or a robotic workcell.

Possible extensions of the ROS workbench

  • implement a tool that creates the configuration package to use the robot with MoveIt!, similar to MoveIt!'s Setup Assistant,
  • implement the features to visualize live ROS topics, such as the robot state, the planning scene, reference frames, LiDAR scans, images, point clouds, …,
  • implement a tool that configures existing libraries for inverse kinematics or directly exports the inverse kinematics as equations or kinematics plugin for MoveIt!.



Gaël Écorchard from the Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic, Group of Intelligent and Mobile Robotics (myself).

I also proposed the idea on the FreeCAD forum but OSRF as organization seems more appropriate.

Please tell me your opinion about it and provide me with instructions how to publish the idea.


Hi Gaël,

The project sounds very, very interesting. We are also using FreeCAD internally in the process of creating robot’s URDF. I think you should also speak with the team from SwRI. They created a Bench that works on Ubuntu 20.04. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to test it yet – since I am already using 22.04 and couldn’t install everything.

P.S. Nice to meet you again, even only virtually :smiley:

There is a similar effort supported by ROS-I Americas team members. @JeremyZoss may be able to comment further about opportunities for collaboration.

Great work!

Hi Denis,

thanks for the reply and nice to “talk” to you again! I guess that the two tools (or workbenches) you are talking about are not public because I never heard of them.

With a little bit of search, I found the tool from ROS-I. It’s the Workcell Builder. Thanks @destogl for the hint!

No, that’s not actually it.

I assume @destogl is referring to SWORD (video).

@gavanderhoorn is correct. It would be great if there could be an opportunity for collaboration, then hopefully the student can be much sooner at “Possible extensions” tasks :slight_smile: