ros2_tracing: Multipurpose Low-Overhead Framework for Real-Time Tracing of ROS 2

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters(2022)

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Abstract
Testing and debugging have become major obstacles for robot software development, because of high system complexity and dynamic environments. Standard, middleware-based data recording does not provide sufficient information on internal computation and performance bottlenecks. Other existing methods also target very specific problems and thus cannot be used for multipurpose analysis. Moreover, they are not suitable for real-time applications. In this letter, we present ros2_tracing , a collection of flexible tracing tools and multipurpose instrumentation for ROS 2. It allows collecting runtime execution information on real-time distributed systems, using the low-overhead LTTng tracer. Tools also integrate tracing into the invaluable ROS 2 orchestration system and other usability tools. A message latency experiment shows that the end-to-end message latency overhead, when enabling all ROS 2 instrumentation, is on average 0.0033 ms, which we believe is suitable for production real-time systems. ROS 2 execution information obtained using ros2_tracing can be combined with trace data from the operating system, enabling a wider range of precise analyses, that help understand an application execution, to find the cause of performance bottlenecks and other issues.
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Key words
Software tools for robot programming,distributed robot systems,Robot Operating System (ROS),performance analysis,tracing
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