Robot Operating System (ROS) on NVIDIA Jetson TX2

ROS Jetson TX2

ROS Jetson TX2

Note: An updated article for this subject is available: Install ROS on Jetson TX. This article is left for historical reasons.

Robot Operating System (ROS) was originally developed at Stanford University as a platform to integrate methods drawn from all areas of artificial intelligence, including machine learning, vision, navigation, planning, reasoning, and speech/natural language processing. You can install it on the NVIDIA Jetson TX2! Looky here:


From 2008 until 2013, development on ROS was performed primarily at the robotics research company Willow Garage who open sourced the code. During that time, researchers at over 20 different institutions collaborated with Willow Garage and contributed to the code base. In 2013, ROS stewardship transitioned to the Open Source Robotics Foundation.

From the ROS website:

The Robot Operating System (ROS) is a flexible framework for writing robot software. It is a collection of tools, libraries, and conventions that aim to simplify the task of creating complex and robust robot behavior across a wide variety of robotic platforms.

Why? Because creating truly robust, general-purpose robot software is hard. From the robot’s perspective, problems that seem trivial to humans often vary wildly between instances of tasks and environments. Dealing with these variations is so hard that no single individual, laboratory, or institution can hope to do it on their own.

Core Components

At the lowest level, ROS offers a message passing interface that provides inter-process communication. Like most message passing systems, ROS has a publish/subscribe mechanism along with request/response procedure calls. An important thing to remember about ROS, and one of the reason that it is so powerful, is that you can run the system on a heterogeneous group of computers. This allows you to distribute tasks across different systems easily.

For example, you may want to have the Jetson running as the main node, and controlling other processors as control subsystems. A concrete example is to have the Jetson doing a high level task like path planning, and instructing micro controllers to perform lower level tasks like controlling motors to drive the robot to a goal.

At a higher level, ROS provides facilities and tools for a Robot Description Language, diagnostics, pose estimation, localization, navigation and visualization.

You can read more about the Core Components here.


The installROSTX2 repository on the JetsonHacks Github account contains scripts which install ROS on the TX2.

The main script,, is a straightforward implementation of the install instructions taken from the ROS Wiki.

You can grab the repository and run the script:

$ git clone
$ cd installROSTX2
$ ./installROSTX2

The script installs ros-base, rosdep and rosinstall. You can modify the script to install ros-desktop or ros-desktop-full if desired. ROS has a huge number of packages (over 1700) to choose from, this script provides an outline for installation.

There is a convenience script to install a Catkin Workspace, which is a tool support environment for ROS. The script is called An optional parameter after the script names the workspace, the default name is catkin_workspace. The workspace will be installed in the home directory. For example:

$ ./ jetsonbot

will create a Catkin Workspace directory named jetsonbot in the home directory.


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