URDF Import: Turtlebot

Omniverse Isaac Sim has several tools to facilitate integration with ROS systems. We have both ROS and ROS2 bridges, a URDF importer, and much more. This tutorial series gives examples of how to use these tools.

Learning Objectives

In this example, we will setup up a Turtlebot3 in Isaac Sim and enable it to drive around.

If you already have a robot with rigged joints and properties in USD format, and you wish to jump straight into using our ROS bridges, go to the next tutorial in the series Driving TurtleBot via ROS2 messages.

Getting Started


Ensure to source your ROS 2 installation from the terminal before running Isaac Sim. If sourcing ROS 2 is a part of your bashrc then Isaac Sim can be run directly.


  • Completed ROS and ROS 2 Installation so that ROS2 is available, ROS2 extension is enabled, and necessary environment variables are set.

  • Basic understanding ROS workspaces.

  • Nucleus downloaded to access Isaac Environments.

Importing TurtleBot URDF

  • Download and build the Turtlebot3’s description package if you haven’t done so already. You can build it inside the provided ROS2 workspace.

git clone -b <distro>-devel https://github.com/ROBOTIS-GIT/turtlebot3.git turtlebot3
  • Locate the Urdf file for Turtlebot3 Burger in turtlebot3/turtlebot3_description/urdf/turtlebot3_burger.urdf.

  • For the purpose of this tutorial, you only need to build the turtlebot3_description package. Feel free to bypass other packages in the repository.

  1. For the purpose of this tutorial series, we will use an Isaac environment, but you can import the robot into any environment of your choosing. Open the environment by going to the Content tab below the viewport, and find Isaac/Environments/Simple_Room/simple_room.usd. If you do not want to use the provided environment, just make sure there is a Ground Plane and a Physics Scene to your environment. Both can be found in Create -> Physics. You may also need some lighting, play with the various types of lighting in Create -> Light to get the desired effect.

  2. On a new stage, drag the simple_room.usd onto the stage, and place it at the origin by zero out all the Translate components in the Transform Property. You many need to zoom in a bit to see the table inside the room.

  3. Open the URDF importer Isaac Utils > Workflows > URDF Importer.

  4. In the prompt window, inside Import Option section, uncheck clear stage to preserve the existing environment, uncheck Fix Base Link since this is a mobile robot, change Joint Drive Type to Velocity so that wheels can be properly driven later.

  5. Inside Import section, first locate the URDF file you wish to import in the Input File. The Import button will only enable after you’ve selected the file.

  6. Once the asset is imported into Omniverse Kit, a copy of the .usd version of the asset will be automatically saved. Specify the folder you wish to save the asset in Output Directory if it’s different than the folder that the .urdf file is located in. A folder name matching the .urdf file will be created in the specified directory, and the .usd file will be inside the newly created folder.

  7. Make sure to unselect everything on the stage by click on an empty space inside the Stage tab, or select /World on the tree. Otherwise you might be importing the Turtlebot as a child of a random object on the tree.

  8. Click Import.

  9. When the Turtlebot is first imported, it will be on the table. Place it just above the floor of the room using the gizmo.

  10. Press Play and you should see the Turtlebot fall onto the floor.

Tune the Robot

The URDF importer automatically imports material, physical, and joint properties whenever it is available and have matching categories in Omniverse Isaac Sim. However, in cases there are no available or matching categories, or if the units are different between the two systems, what gets automatically filled in may not be accurate and changes the robot’s behavior. Here are some properties that can be tuned to correct the robot’s behavior.

Frictional Properties

If your robot’s wheels are slipping, try changing the friction coefficients of the wheels and potentially the ground as well following steps 3.4.2 in Add Simple Objects

Physical Properties

If no explicit mass or inertial properties are given, the physics engine will estimate them from the geometry mesh. To update the mass and inertial properties, find the prim that contains the rigid body for the given link (You can verify this by finding “Physics > Rigid Body” under its property tab). If it already has a “Mass” category under its Physics property tab, modify them accordingly. If there isn’t already a “Mass” category, you can add it by clicking on the +Add button on top of the Propery tab, and select “Physics > Mass”.

Joint Properties

If your robot is oscillating at the joint or moving too slow, take a look at the stiffness and damping parameters for the joints. High stiffness makes the joints snap faster and harder to the desire target, and higher damping smoothes but also slows down the joint’s movement to target. For pure position drives, set relatively high stiffness and low damping. For velocity drives, stiffness must be set to zero with a non-zero damping.


When the URDF importer finishes, the robot that appears on stage is usually loaded as a reference. This can be confirmed by an orange arrow on the robot prim on the stage tree eyecon. If you have problem changing the parameters and saving them, you may need to edit the original USD file that the reference is pointing to instead. To fint the file path to the original USD file navigate to the property tab and go to References > Asset Path.


This tutorial covered the following topics:

  1. URDF import

  2. Tuning the robot parameters

Next Steps

Continue on to the next tutorial in our ROS Tutorials series, Driving TurtleBot via ROS2 messages, to learn how to add omnigraph nodes to move the robot, and ROS2 bridge nodes to connect to the ROS network.

Further Learning