We are proud to announce the release of Ignition Acropolis, the first major release of the Ignition framework. Ignition’s rapid pace of development is thanks to the DARPA Subterranean Challenge. The SubT Challenge is aiming to revolutionize how we operate in the underground domain by driving novel approaches and technologies to allow the rapid mapping, navigation, and search of dynamic underground environments.

Open Robotics is helping to develop the SubT Virtual Testbed which will support competitors in both the Systems and Virtual tracks of the SubT Challenge. To date the SubT Virtual Testbed has been based on Gazebo9 and ROS Melodic. With the release of Acropolis, teams will start the transition to Ignition. The transition will be complete in May of 2019 alongside the release of Ignition Blueprint.

Work on Ignition began back in 2014 with the transport library. The principle goals behind the development of Ignition were to support large-scale simulations, improve software adoption and usage by decomposing Gazebo into a set of semi-independent libraries, and take a major leap forward in the upstream libraries used by simulation.

Acropolis hits all of these goals through the inclusion of distributed simulation and dynamic model loading, separation of functionality into multiple curated libraries, and adoption of DART, Ogre2, Protobuf3, and QtQuick. All of the available features can be found at ignitionrobotics.org/features. Check out the documentation to get up and running with Ignition.

Integration with, and development of, cloud-hosted simulation capabilities are a major component of Ignition. Currently, Acropolis utilizes app.ignitionrobotics.org to acquire simulation assets at run-time. A user of the Ignition web app can view, upload, and download available simulation assets, organize assets into collections, and group people into organizations. The web app is under active development, with exciting new features on the horizon.

A follow on release of Ignition will take place in May 2019, followed shortly by a third release in the fall of 2019. The release page contains more information about current and future releases.

Future of Gazebo

The latest release of Gazebo, Gazebo 10, was rolled out in January 2019. We plan to continue to support Gazebo over the coming year and release Gazebo 11 in 2020. Gazebo 11 will be an LTS release, with a EOL date of Jan 2025. Gazebo 11 will also the be final release of the Gazebo lineage. Development efforts toward simulation will focus primarily on Ignition. Users of Gazebo can expect migration guides, tutorials, and additional help to be developed over the course of 2019 and 2020 to aid in the transition.

Over 16 years of experience has helped to inform and guide the development of Ignition. We believe that the shift toward Ignition will be extremely beneficial to community. As always, this remains an open-source project and we look forward to your feedback and contributions.