sob_layer repository

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VCS Version master
Last Updated 2021-11-22
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Name Version
sob_layer 0.1.1


Small-Objects-Big (Sob) Layer

Build Status

The SobLayer offers a (likely) faster alternative to the commonly used costmap_2d::InflationLayer. It implements the distance transform algorithm described by Felzenszwalb and Huttenlocher [1].


If you're using ros-noetic, you can install the package via apt:

sudo apt install ros-noetic-sob-layer

If you're using an older ros-version or if you want to build the package from sources, follow the "normal" build process for catkin-based packages:

cd ~/catkin_ws/src
git clone
catkin build sob_layer --no-deps --cmake-args -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release

You will get an additional performance boost by compiling with O3 optimization, which enables auto-vectorization:

catkin build sob_layer --no-deps --cmake-args -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release -DCMAKE_CXX_FLAGS="-O3 -march=native"

The library offers also a benchmark-target. The benchmarking should help you to figure out, if the SobLayer offers a reasonable improvement over the costmap_2d::InflationLayer for your specific usecase/platform. The benchmark-target requires the benchmark library. If you want to build it, add -Dsob_layer_BENCHMARK=ON to your build command:

catkin build sob_layer --no-deps --cmake-args -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release -Dsob_layer_BENCHMARK=ON


The library requires at least C++11. It has been tested on Ubuntu 18.04 and Ubuntu 20.04 running ros-melodic and ros-noetic, respectively. Following compilers are known to work * GCC 7.5.0 * Clang 6.0.0


This library was benchmarked against the costmap_2d::InflationLayer. The benchmarks focus on two extreme scenarios.

In the first scenario we measure the performance of large, connected obstacles. We place a filled square in the middle of the map. The square is set to the size NxN. N ranges from 0 to 0.9 times the overall map's edge E (assuming the map is a square with the size ExE). An increasing N increases hence the "load-factor" (number of occupied cells).

In the second scenario we measure the performance of unconnected obstacles. On an flattened map, we mark every N-th cell as occupied. With decreasing values for N, more cells are marked as occupied - our "load-factor" increases. The used N-values are [101, 51, 41, 31, 21, 11, 6, 3, 2].


The image above shows the results. The results were obtained on a AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 4650U CPU. The library was compiled with GCC 7.5.0 and "-O3 -march=native" flags.

The y-axis indicates the cpu-time. The x-axis shows the "load-factor" (increasing from left to right). Both scenarios were run for two map-sizes: 100x100 and 1000x1000. The upper row shows the results for the smaller size, the lower for the larger.


The SobLayer follows mostly the configuration from costmap_2d::InflationLayer, easing the change for users.

# in your <common|local|global>_costmap.yaml
    # ...
    -{name: inflation_layer,  type: "sob_layer::SobLayer"}

    # in meters. positive will suppress the automatic calculation from the
    # footprint
    inflation_radius: -1.
    # in meters, as in costmap_2d::InflationLayer
    inscribed_radius:  1.
    # decay, as in costmap_2d::InflationLayer
    cost_scaling_factor: 0
    # same behavior as in every costmap_2d::Layer:
    # calls to updateCosts and updateBounds will be skipped, if false
    enabled: true
    # If set to true, the costs with the value costmap_2d::NO_INFORMATION will
    # be overwritten by any cost larger than costmap_2d::FREE_SPACE.
    inflate_unknown: true


[1] Felzenszwalb, P., & Huttenlocher, D. (2012). Distance Transforms of Sampled Functions Theory of Computing, 8(19), 415–428.


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