Local software installation

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Basic interactions with the Racecar only require SSH, which is available natively on most Unix systems and Windows. However, full Racecar functionality including the ability to flash the Racecar with new software, make visualizations in rviz, and run the Racecar simulator, require a local machine running Ubuntu. Other Linux operating systems may work, but are unsupported.

If you do not have a Ubuntu installation, you can install a virtual machine that comes with the Racecar software preinstalled. If you have an existing Ubuntu installation you would like to use, you can install the software manually.

Virtual machine installation

You can download the latest Racecar virtual machine from here.

Virtualization software

Running this virtual machine requires virtual machine host software. If you are an MIT student, you can download VMWare from IS&T for free. Otherwise, you can download Virtual Box, which is an open source virtual machine software.


Once you have both the virtual machine image (the .ova file) and a host, open the image in your host and press the "Run" button to boot the machine. The username is racecar and the password is racecar@mit. That's it you're all set up!

Manual installation

Install ROS

Follow these instructions to install ROS melodic. You have the option to install only the necessary components required to interact with the Racecar, or the complete ROS package.

Lightweight installation

The critical software you need to interact with the Racecar is the base ROS software and Rviz. Install them via:

sudo apt-get install ros-melodic-ros-base
sudo apt-get install ros-melodic-rviz

To install specific packages later:

sudo apt-get install ros-melodic-[PACKAGE_NAME]

Full installation

If you are going to be using or writing software that depends on a number of ROS packages, it may be easier to simply install the full ROS package. On Ubuntu run:

sudo apt-get install ros-melodic-desktop-full

Create a Racecar workspace

Follow these instructions to create a ROS workspace. In all future tutorials we will assume your workspace is located at ~/racecar_ws, however this is not a strict requirement.

Install the Racecar software

Clone the Racecar base software into your ~/racecar_ws/src/ folder:

git clone https://github.com/mit-racecar/racecar_base.git ~/racecar_ws/src/

Afterwards, run the setup

cd ~/racecar_ws/src/racecar_base
source racecar_local.setup