Isaac ROS Triton and TensorRT Nodes for DNN Inference

NVIDIA Isaac ROS provides two separate packages for performing DNN inference: Triton and TensorRT.

Our benchmarks show comparable performance and inference speed with both nodes, so a decision should be based on other characteristics of the overall model being deployed.


The NVIDIA Triton Inference Server is an open-source inference serving software that provides a uniform interface for deploying AI models. Crucially, Triton supports a wide array of compute devices like NVIDIA GPUs and both x86 and ARM CPUs, and also operates with all major frameworks such as TensorFlow, TensorRT, and PyTorch.

Because Triton can take advantage of additional compute devices beyond just the GPU, Triton can be a better choice in situations where there is GPU resource contention from other model inference or processing tasks. However, in order to provide for this flexibility, Triton requires the creation of a model repository and additional configuration files before deployment.


NVIDIA TensorRT is a specific CUDA-based, on-GPU inference framework that performs a number of optimizations to deliver extremely performant model execution. TensorRT only supports ONNX and TensorRT Engine Plans, providing less flexibility than Triton but also requiring less initial configuration.

Using either Triton or TensorRT Nodes

Both nodes use the Isaac ROS Tensor List message for input data and output inference result.

Users can either prepare a custom model or download pre-trained models from NGC as described here. Models should be converted to the TensorRT Engine File format using the tao-converter tool as described here.

Note: While the TensorRT node can automatically convert ONNX plans to the TensorRT Engine Plan format if configured to use a .onnx file, this conversion step will considerably extend the node’s per-launch initial setup time.

As a result, we recommend converting any ONNX models to TensorRT Engine Plans first, and configuring the TensorRT node to use the Engine Plan instead.

Pre- and Post-Processing Nodes

In order to be a useful component of a ROS graph, both Isaac ROS Triton and TensorRT inference nodes will require application-specific pre-processor (encoder) and post-processor (decoder) nodes to handle type conversion and other necessary steps.

A pre-processor node should take in a ROS 2 message, perform the pre-processing steps dictated by the model, and then convert the data into an Isaac ROS Tensor List message. For example, a pre-processor node could resize an image, normalize it, and then convert it into a Tensor List.

A post-processor node should be used to convert the Isaac ROS Tensor List output of the model inference into a useful ROS 2 message. For example, a post-processor node may perform argmax to identify the class label from a classification problem.

Using TensorRT or Triton

Further Reading

For more documentation on Triton, see here.

For more documentation on TensorRT, see here.