Phobos: 3D Robot Modelling made easy

Kai Alexander von Szadkowski, Malte Langosz

DFKI DFKI Documents (D) 14_06 1406 Selbstverlag 9/2015.


Phobos is an Add-On for the free 3D modeling software Blender, turning it into a powerful open-source WYSIWYG editor for robot models to be used with MARS or Gazebo. The software allows to create robots from scratch or derive them from imported CAD data - it is even possible to import existing URDF files, which are widely used with ROS. Consequently, robot models can be exported to URDF, but also in SMURF, the DFKI's versatile robot data format based on URDF and compatible with Rock. To represent the hierarchical kinematic structure of URDF models, Phobos makes use of Blender's armature objects, which are designed for character animation and thus allow constraining movements similar to URDF's joint constraints. This enables verifying ranges of motion of a robot directly in Blender. By attaching meshes or primitives to the bones, Phobos simplifies adding visual and collision objects to a model. Additional objects with custom properties allow to place and orient sensors such as laser scanners and cameras, or refine the physical representation of a robot by redefining centers of masses and inertia tensors. In fact, any custom information the user wishes to add for a specific task can be written into the Blender file and will be exported to SMURF, thus enabling the use of Phobos as the principal model editor over the lifetime of a robot. Phobos is hosted on GitHub:


Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence