A robotics simulator is used to create application for a physical robot without depending on the actual machine, thus saving cost and time. In some case, these applications can be transferred onto the physical robot (or rebuilt) without modifications.
The term robotics simulator can refer to several different robotics simulation applications. For example, in mobile robotics applications, behavior-based robotics simulators allow users to create simple worlds of rigid objects and light sources and to program robots to interact with these worlds. Behavior-based simulation allows for actions that are more biological in nature when compared to simulators that are more binary, or computational. In addition, behavior-based simulators may "learn" from mistakes and are capable of demonstrating the anthropomorphic quality of tenacity.
One of the most popular applications for robotics simulators is for 3D modeling and rendering of a robot and its environment. This type of robotics software has a simulator that is a virtual robot, which is capable of emulating the motion of an actual robot in a real work envelope. Some robotics simulators use a physics engine for more realistic motion generation of the robot. The use of a robotics simulator for development of a robotics control program is highly recommended regardless of whether an actual robot is available or not. The simulator allows for robotics programs to be conveniently written and debugged off-line with the final version of the program tested on an actual robot. Of course, this primarily holds for industrial robotic applications only, since the success of off-line programming depends on how similar the real environment of the robot is to the simulated environment.
Sensor-based robot actions are much more difficult to simulate and/or to program off-line, since the robot motion depends on the instantaneous sensor readings in the real world.
Among the newest technologies available today for programming are those which use a virtual simulation. Simulations with the use of virtual models of the working environment and the robots themselves can offer advantages to both the company and programmer. By using a simulation, costs are reduced, and robots can be programmed off-line which eliminates any down-time for an assembly line. Robot actions and assembly parts can be visualised in a 3-dimensional virtual environment months before prototypes are even produced. Writing code for a simulation is also easier than writing code for a physical robot. While the move toward virtual simulations for programming robots is a step forward in user interface design, many such applications are only in their infancy.
Klamp't : a simulator introduced in 2013 specializing in stable trimesh-trimesh contact. Supports legged locomotion and manipulation.
LpzRobots: a 3D-physics robot simulator developed at the University of Leipzig.
miniBloq: This robot programing software for Arduino boards has a new simulator.
Moby: a rigid-body dynamics library written in C++.
OpenSim Simulator for articulated and wheeled robots with a wide range of characteristics. Further development stopped in the year 2006.
Robotics Toolbox for MATLAB is Free Software that provides functionality for representing pose (homogeneous transformations, Euler and RPY angles, quaternions), arm robots (forward/inverse kinematics, dynamics, simulation, animation) and mobile robots (control, localisation, planning and animation).
ARTE A Robotics Toolbox for Education (ARTE) is a Free Software educational tool based on Matlab. It provides functions to represent position and orientation. As well, includes functions to simulate robotic arms (direct/inverse kinematics, dynamics, path planning and more). The toolbox includes a large set of 3D robotic models that can be viewed and simulated inside a robotic cell.
Simbad 3d Robot Simulator Java based simulator
SimRobot: A robot simulator software package developed at the Universität Bremen and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence.
Stage: 2.5D simulator often used with Player to form the Player/Stage system. Part of the Player Project
STDR Simulator A simple, flexible and scalable 2D multi-robot simulator for use within Robot Operating System.
UCHILSIM: A physics based simulator for AIBO Robots introduced in RoboCup 2004.
UWSim : an UnderWater SIMulator for marine robotics research and development which incorporates sensor, dynamic and physics simulation.
^The development is led by 13+ full-time developers with graduate-level backgrounds in physics, rendering, robot control, human-robot interaction, user-interface design, communication protocols, and multi-robot coordination.
^The development is led by 10+ universities/research institutes including LAAS-CNRS, TUM, ONERA, DLR. See the AUTHORS list for the complete list.