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Show robot model in figure



show(robot) plots the body frames of the robot model in a figure with the predefined home configuration. Both the Frames and Visuals are displayed automatically.

show(robot,configuration) uses the joint positions specified in configuration to show the robot body frames.

show(___,Name=Value) specifies options using one or more name-value pair arguments in addition to any combination of input arguments from previous syntaxes. For example, Frames="off" hides the rigid body frames in the figure.

ax = show(___) returns the axes handle the robot is plotted on.


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You can import robots that have .stl files associated with the Unified Robot Description format (URDF) file to describe the visual geometries of the robot. Each rigid body has an individual visual geometry specified. The importrobot function parses the URDF file to get the robot model and visual geometries. The function assumes that visual geometry and collision geometry of the robot are the same and assigns the visual geometries as collision geometries of corresponding bodies.

Use the show function to display the visual and collision geometries of the robot model in a figure. You can then interact with the model by clicking components to inspect them and right-clicking to toggle visibility.

Import a robot model as a URDF file. The .stl file locations must be properly specified in this URDF. To add other .stl files to individual rigid bodies, see addVisual.

robot = importrobot('iiwa14.urdf');

Visualize the robot with the associated visual model. Click bodies or frames to inspect them. Right-click bodies to toggle visibility for each visual geometry.


Visualize the robot with the associated collision geometries. Click bodies or frames to inspect them. Right-click bodies to toggle visibility for each collision geometry.


Show different configurations of a robot created using a rigidBodyTree model. Use the homeConfiguration or randomConfiguration functions to generate the structure that defines all the joint positions.

Load a FANUC LR Mate 200ib from the Robotics System Toolbox™ loadrobot. It is returned as a rigidBodyTree object.

robot = loadrobot("fanucLRMate200ib");
Robot: (9 bodies)

 Idx     Body Name            Joint Name            Joint Type     Parent Name(Idx)   Children Name(s)
 ---     ---------            ----------            ----------     ----------------   ----------------
   1          base        base_link-base                 fixed         base_link(0)   
   2        link_1               joint_1              revolute         base_link(0)   link_2(3)  
   3        link_2               joint_2              revolute            link_1(2)   link_3(4)  
   4        link_3               joint_3              revolute            link_2(3)   link_4(5)  
   5        link_4               joint_4              revolute            link_3(4)   link_5(6)  
   6        link_5               joint_5              revolute            link_4(5)   link_6(7)  
   7        link_6               joint_6              revolute            link_5(6)   flange(8)  tool0(9)  
   8        flange        joint_6-flange                 fixed            link_6(7)   
   9         tool0          link_6-tool0                 fixed            link_6(7)   

Create a structure for the home configuration of the robot. The structure has joint names and positions for each body on the robot model.

config = homeConfiguration(robot)
config=1×6 struct array with fields:

Show the home configuration using show. You do not need to specify a configuration input.


Modify the configuration and set the second joint position to pi/2. Show the resulting change in the robot configuration.

config(2).JointPosition = pi/2;

Create random configurations and show them.


Use the Denavit-Hartenberg (DH) parameters of the Puma560® robot to build a robot. Each rigid body is added one at a time, with the child-to-parent transform specified by the joint object.

The DH parameters define the geometry of the robot with relation to how each rigid body is attached to its parent. For convenience, setup the parameters for the Puma560 robot in a matrix[1]. The Puma robot is a serial chain manipulator. The DH parameters are relative to the previous row in the matrix, corresponding to the previous joint attachment.

dhparams = [0   	pi/2	0   	0;
            0.4318	0       0       0
            0.0203	-pi/2	0.15005	0;
            0   	pi/2	0.4318	0;
            0       -pi/2	0   	0;
            0       0       0       0];

Create a rigid body tree object to build the robot.

robot = rigidBodyTree;

Create the first rigid body and add it to the robot. To add a rigid body:

  1. Create a rigidBody object and give it a unique name.

  2. Create a rigidBodyJoint object and give it a unique name.

  3. Use setFixedTransform to specify the body-to-body transformation using DH parameters. The last element of the DH parameters, theta, is ignored because the angle is dependent on the joint position.

  4. Call addBody to attach the first body joint to the base frame of the robot.

body1 = rigidBody('body1');
jnt1 = rigidBodyJoint('jnt1','revolute');

body1.Joint = jnt1;


Create and add other rigid bodies to the robot. Specify the previous body name when calling addBody to attach it. Each fixed transform is relative to the previous joint coordinate frame.

body2 = rigidBody('body2');
jnt2 = rigidBodyJoint('jnt2','revolute');
body3 = rigidBody('body3');
jnt3 = rigidBodyJoint('jnt3','revolute');
body4 = rigidBody('body4');
jnt4 = rigidBodyJoint('jnt4','revolute');
body5 = rigidBody('body5');
jnt5 = rigidBodyJoint('jnt5','revolute');
body6 = rigidBody('body6');
jnt6 = rigidBodyJoint('jnt6','revolute');


body2.Joint = jnt2;
body3.Joint = jnt3;
body4.Joint = jnt4;
body5.Joint = jnt5;
body6.Joint = jnt6;


Verify that your robot was built properly by using the showdetails or show function. showdetails lists all the bodies in the MATLAB® command window. show displays the robot with a given configuration (home by default). Calls to axis modify the axis limits and hide the axis labels.

Robot: (6 bodies)

 Idx    Body Name   Joint Name   Joint Type    Parent Name(Idx)   Children Name(s)
 ---    ---------   ----------   ----------    ----------------   ----------------
   1        body1         jnt1     revolute             base(0)   body2(2)  
   2        body2         jnt2     revolute            body1(1)   body3(3)  
   3        body3         jnt3     revolute            body2(2)   body4(4)  
   4        body4         jnt4     revolute            body3(3)   body5(5)  
   5        body5         jnt5     revolute            body4(4)   body6(6)  
   6        body6         jnt6     revolute            body5(5)   
axis off


[1] Corke, P. I., and B. Armstrong-Helouvry. “A Search for Consensus among Model Parameters Reported for the PUMA 560 Robot.” Proceedings of the 1994 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, IEEE Computer. Soc. Press, 1994, pp. 1608–13. (Crossref), doi:10.1109/ROBOT.1994.351360.

Load a robot model and modify the collision meshes. Clear existing collision meshes, add simple collision object primitives, and check whether certain configurations are in collision.

Load Robot Model

Load a preconfigured robot model into the workspace using the loadrobot function. This model already has collision meshes specified for each body. Iterate through all the rigid body elements and clear the existing collision meshes. Confirm that the existing meshes are gone.

robot = loadrobot("kukaIiwa7",DataFormat="column");

for i = 1:robot.NumBodies


Add Collision Cylinders

Iteratively add a collision cylinder to each body. Skip some bodies for this specific model, as they overlap and always collide with the end effector (body 10).

collisionObj = collisionCylinder(0.05,0.25);

for i = 1:robot.NumBodies
    if i > 6 && i < 10
        % Skip these bodies.


Check for Collisions

Generate a series of random configurations. Check whether the robot is in collision at each configuration. Visualize each configuration that has a collision.

rng(0) % Set random seed for repeatability.
for i = 1:20
    config = randomConfiguration(robot);
    isColliding = checkCollision(robot,config,SkippedSelfCollisions="parent");
    if isColliding
        title("Collision Detected")
        % Skip non-collisions.

Input Arguments

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Robot model, specified as a rigidBodyTree object.

Robot configuration, specified as a vector of joint positions or a structure with joint names and positions for all the bodies in the robot model. You can generate a configuration using homeConfiguration(robot), randomConfiguration(robot), or by specifying your own joint positions in a structure. To use the vector form of configuration, set the DataFormat property for robot to either "row" or "column".

Name-Value Arguments

Specify optional pairs of arguments as Name1=Value1,...,NameN=ValueN, where Name is the argument name and Value is the corresponding value. Name-value arguments must appear after other arguments, but the order of the pairs does not matter.

Before R2021a, use commas to separate each name and value, and enclose Name in quotes.

Example: Frames="off" hides the rigid body frames in the figure.

Parent of axes, specified as an Axes object in which to draw the robot. By default, the robot is plotted in the active axes.

Option to preserve robot plot, specified as a logical 1 (true) or 0 (false). When you specify PreservePlot as true, you must also use hold on so that show does not overwrite previous rigid body tree patches in the axes that were displayed by calling show. When you specify PreservePlot as false, the show overwrites previous plots of the rigid body tree in the same axes regardless of the current hold value.


If PreservePlot is true, then the FastUpdate argument must be false.

Data Types: logical

Display body frames, specified as either "on" or "off". These frames are the coordinate frames of individual bodies on the rigid body tree.

Data Types: char | string

Display visual geometries, specified as either "on" or "off". Individual visual geometries can also be turned off by right-clicking them in the figure.

Specify individual visual geometries using addVisual. To import a URDF robot model with .stl files for meshes, see the importrobot function.

Data Types: char | string

Display collision geometries, specified as the comma-separated pair consisting of "Collisions" and "on" or "off".

Add collision geometries to the individual rigid bodies in the robot model using the addCollision function. To import a URDF robot model with .stl files for meshes, see the importrobot function.

Data Types: char | string

Position of the robot, specified as the comma-separated pair consisting of "Position" and a four-element vector of the form [x y z yaw]. The x, y, and z elements specify the position in meters, and yaw specifies the yaw angle in radians.

Data Types: single | double

Fast updates to existing plot, specified as a logical 0 (false) or 1 (true). You must use the show object function to initially display the robot model before you can specify it with this argument.


If FastUpdate is true, then the PreservePlot argument must be false.

Data Types: logical

Output Arguments

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Axes graphic handle, returned as an Axes object. This object contains the properties of the figure that the robot is plotted onto.


Your robot model has visual components associated with it. Each rigidBody object contains a coordinate frame that is displayed as the body frame. Each body also can have visual meshes associated with them. By default, both of these components are displayed automatically. You can inspect or modify the visual components of the rigid body tree display. Click body frames or visual meshes to highlight them in yellow and see the associated body name, index, and joint type. Right-click to toggle visibility of individual components.

  • Body Frames: Individual body frames are displayed as a 3-axis coordinate frame. Fixed frames are pink frames. Movable joint types are displayed as RGB axes. You can click a body frame to see the axis of motion. Prismatic joints show a yellow arrow in the direction of the axis of motion and, revolute joints show a circular arrow around the rotation axis.

  • Visual Meshes: Individual visual geometries are specified using addVisual or by using the importrobot to import a robot model with either a specified .stl or .dae file. By right-clicking individual bodies in a figure, you can turn off their meshes or specify the Visuals name-value pair to hide all visual geometries.

Version History

Introduced in R2016b