Tutorial for Visual SLAM Using a RealSense Camera with Integrated IMU



This tutorial walks you through setting up Isaac ROS Visual SLAM with a Realsense camera.


The launch file provided in this tutorial is designed for a RealSense camera with integrated IMU. If you want to run this tutorial with a RealSense camera without an IMU (like RealSense D435), then change the enable_imu_fusion parameter in the launch file to False.


This tutorial requires a compatible RealSense camera from the list of available cameras.

Tutorial Walkthrough - VSLAM Execution

  1. Complete the RealSense setup tutorial.

  2. Complete the quickstart here.

  3. Follow the IMU page to obtain the IMU Noise Model parameters. Parameters can be obtained through the datasheet for the IMU or from a ROS package such as this.

  4. [Terminal 1] Run realsense-camera node and visual_slam node.

    Make sure you have your RealSense camera attached to the system, and then start the Isaac ROS container.

     cd ${ISAAC_ROS_WS}/src/isaac_ros_common && \
  5. [Terminal 1] Inside the container, build and source the workspace:

    cd /workspaces/isaac_ros-dev && \
      colcon build --symlink-install && \
      source install/setup.bash
  6. [Terminal 1] Run the launch file, which launches the example and waits for 5 seconds:

    ros2 launch isaac_ros_visual_slam isaac_ros_visual_slam_realsense.launch.py
  7. [Terminal 2] Attach a second terminal to check the operation.

    Attach another terminal to the running container for issuing other ROS2 commands.

    cd ${ISAAC_ROS_WS}/src/isaac_ros_common && \

    Verify that you can see all the ROS2 topics expected.

    ros2 topic list

    Output example:


    Check the frequency of the realsense-camera node’s output frequency.

    ros2 topic hz /camera/infra1/image_rect_raw --window 20

    Example output:

    average rate: 89.714
            min: 0.011s max: 0.011s std dev: 0.00025s window: 20
    average rate: 90.139
            min: 0.010s max: 0.012s std dev: 0.00038s window: 20
    average rate: 89.955
            min: 0.011s max: 0.011s std dev: 0.00020s window: 20
    average rate: 89.761
            min: 0.009s max: 0.013s std dev: 0.00074s window: 20

    Ctrl + c to stop the output.

    You can also check the frequency of IMU topic.

    ros2 topic hz /camera/imu --window 20

    Example output:

    average rate: 199.411
            min: 0.004s max: 0.006s std dev: 0.00022s window: 20
    average rate: 199.312
            min: 0.004s max: 0.006s std dev: 0.00053s window: 20
    average rate: 200.409
            min: 0.005s max: 0.005s std dev: 0.00007s window: 20
    average rate: 200.173
            min: 0.004s max: 0.006s std dev: 0.00028s window: 20

    Verify that you are getting the output from the visual_slam node at the same rate as the input.

    ros2 topic hz /visual_slam/tracking/odometry --window 20

    Example output:

    average rate: 58.086
            min: 0.002s max: 0.107s std dev: 0.03099s window: 20
    average rate: 62.370
            min: 0.001s max: 0.109s std dev: 0.03158s window: 20
    average rate: 90.559
            min: 0.009s max: 0.013s std dev: 0.00066s window: 20
    average rate: 85.612
            min: 0.002s max: 0.100s std dev: 0.02079s window: 20
    average rate: 90.032
            min: 0.010s max: 0.013s std dev: 0.00059s window: 20

Tutorial Walkthrough - Visualization

You have two options for checking the visual_slam output:

  • Live visualization: Run RViz2 live while running realsense-camera node and visual_slam nodes.

  • Offline visualization: Record rosbag file and check the recorded data offline (possibly on a different machine).

Running RViz2 on a remote PC over the network can be challenging and can be difficult especially when you have image message topics to subscribe because of the added burden on the ROS 2 network transport.

Working on RViz2 in a X11-forwarded window can also be difficult because of the network speed limitation.

Typically, if you are running visual_slam on Jetson, it is generally recommended that you NOT evaluate with live visualization (1).

Live Visualization

  1. [Terminal 2] Open RViz2 from the second terminal:

    rviz2 -d $(ros2 pkg prefix isaac_ros_visual_slam --share)/rviz/realsense.cfg.rviz

    As you move the camera, verify that the position and orientation of the frames corresponds to how the camera moved relative to its starting pose.


Offline Visualization

  1. [Terminal 2] Save a rosbag file.

    Record the output in your rosbag file, along with the input data for later visual inspection.

    export ROSBAG_NAME=courtyard-d435i
    ros2 bag record -o ${ROSBAG_NAME} \
      /camera/imu /camera/accel/metadata /camera/gyro/metadata \
      /camera/infra1/camera_info /camera/infra1/image_rect_raw \
      /camera/infra1/metadata \
      /camera/infra2/camera_info /camera/infra2/image_rect_raw \
      /camera/infra2/metadata \
      /tf_static /tf \
      /visual_slam/status \
      /visual_slam/tracking/odometry \
      /visual_slam/tracking/slam_path /visual_slam/tracking/vo_path \
      /visual_slam/tracking/vo_pose /visual_slam/tracking/vo_pose_covariance \
      /visual_slam/vis/landmarks_cloud /visual_slam/vis/loop_closure_cloud \
      /visual_slam/vis/observations_cloud \
      /visual_slam/vis/pose_graph_edges /visual_slam/vis/pose_graph_edges2 \
    ros2 bag info ${ROSBAG_NAME}

    If you plan to run the rosbag on a remote machine (PC) for evaluation, you can send the rosbag file to your remote machine.

    export IP_PC=
    scp -r ${ROSBAG_NAME} ${PC_USER}@${IP_PC}:/home/${PC_USER}/workspaces/isaac_ros-dev/
  2. [Terminal 1] Launch RViz2.

    If you are SSHing into Jetson from your PC, make sure you enabled X forwarding by adding -X option with SSH command:


    Launch the Isaac ROS container:

    cd ${ISAAC_ROS_WS}/src/isaac_ros_common && \

    Run RViz with a configuration file for visualizing a set of messages from Visual SLAM node.

    cd /workspaces/isaac_ros-dev
    rviz2 -d $(ros2 pkg prefix isaac_ros_visual_slam --share)/rviz/vslam_keepall.cfg.rviz
  3. [Terminal 2] Playback the recorded rosbag.

    Attach another terminal to the running container.

    cd ${ISAAC_ROS_WS}/src/isaac_ros_common && \

    Play the recorded rosbag file.

    ros2 bag play ${ROSBAG_NAME}

    RViz starts showing a visualization similar to the following: