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Effective Robotics Programming with ROS - Third Edition by Aaron Martinez, Enrique Fernández, Luis Sánchez, Anil Mahtani

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Xacro – a better way to write our robot models

Notice the size of the robot1_physics.urdf file. It has 314 lines of code to define our robot. Imagine adding cameras, legs, and other geometries—the file will start increasing, and the maintenance of the code will become more complicated.

Xacro (short for XML Macros) helps in reducing the overall size of the URDF file and makes it easier to read and maintain. It also allows us to create modules and reutilize them to create repeated structures, such as several arms or legs.

To start using xacro, we need to specify a namespace so that the file is parsed properly. For example, these are the first two lines of a valid .xacro file:

<?xml version="1.0"?> <robot xmlns:xacro="http://www.ros.org/wiki/xacro" ...

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