Understanding URDF: A Survey Based on User Experience


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With the increasing complexity of robot systems, it is necessary to simulate them before deployment. To do this, a model of the robot's kinematics or dynamics is required. One of the most commonly used formats for modeling robots is the Unified Robot Description Format (URDF). The goal of this article is to understand how URDF is currently used, what challenges people face when working with it, and how the community sees the future of URDF. The outcome can potentially be used to guide future research. This article presents the results from a survey based on 510 anonymous responses from robotic developers of different backgrounds and levels of experience. We find that 96.8% of the participants have simulated robots before, and of them 95.5% had used URDF. We identify a number of challenges and limitations that complicate the use of URDF, such as the inability to model parallel linkages and closed-chain systems, no real standard, lack of documentation, and a limited number of dynamic parameters to model the robot. Future perspectives for URDF are also determined, where 53.5% believe URDF will be more commonly used in the future, 12.2% believe other standards or tools will make URDF obsolete, and 34.4% are not sure what the future of URDF will be. Most participants agree that there is a need for better tooling to ensure URDF's future use.
urdf,user experience,survey
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