Introduction to Robot Simulation

Often a team may want to test their code without having an actual robot available. WPILib provides teams with the ability to simulate various robot features using simple gradle commands.

Enabling Desktop Support

Use of the Desktop Simulator requires Desktop Support to be enabled. This can be done by checking the “Enable Desktop Support Checkbox” when creating your robot project or by running “WPILib: Change Desktop Support Enabled Setting” from the Visual Studio Code command palette.

Enabling desktop support through VS Code Manually enabling desktop support through VS Code command-palette

Desktop support can also be enabled by manually editing your build.gradle file located at the root of your robot project. Simply change includeDesktopSupport = false to includeDesktopSupport = true

def includeDesktopSupport = true

Important

It is important to note that enabling desktop/simulation support can have unintended consequences. Not all vendors will support this option, and code that uses their libraries may even crash when attempting to run simulation!

If at any point in time you want to disable Desktop Support, simply re-run the “WPILib: Change Desktop Support Enabled Setting” from the command palette.

Additional C++ Dependency

C++ robot simulation requires that a native compiler to be installed. For Windows, this would be Visual Studio 2019 (not VS Code), macOS requires Xcode, and Linux (Ubuntu) requires the build-essential package.

Ensure the Desktop Development with C++ option is checked in the Visual Studio installer for simulation support.

Screenshot of the Visual Studio build tools option

Running Robot Simulation

Basic robot simulation can be run using VS Code. This can be done without using any commands by using VS Code’s command palette.

Running robot simulation through VS Code

Your console output in Visual Studio Code should look like the below. However, teams probably will want to actually test their code versus just running the simulation. This can be done using WPILib’s Simulation GUI.

********** Robot program starting **********
Default disabledInit() method... Override me!
Default disabledPeriodic() method... Override me!
Default robotPeriodic() method... Override me!

Important

Simulation can also be run outside of VS Code using ./gradlew simulateJava. It’s important to note that C++ simulation is not available through command-line at this time.

Note

macOS users should be aware of the simulation fails to launch known issue

Running Robot Dashboards

Both Shuffleboard and SmartDashboard can be used with WPILib simulation.

Shuffleboard

Shuffleboard is automatically configured to look for a NetworkTable instance from the robotRIO but not from other sources. To connect to Shuffleboard, open Shuffleboard preferences from the File menu and select NetworkTables under Plugins on the left navigation bar. In the Server field, type in the IP address or hostname of the NetworkTables host. For a standard simulation configuration, use localhost.

../../../../_images/shuffleboard-networktables.png

SmartDashboard

SmartDashboard is automatically configured to look for a NetworkTable instance from the roboRIO, but not from other sources. To connect to SmartDashboard, open SmartDashboard preferences under the File menu and in the Team Number field, enter the IP address or hostname of the NetworkTables host. For a standard simulation configuration, use localhost.

../../../../_images/smartdashboard-networktables.png