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The ROS Parameter Server can store strings, integers, floats, booleans, lists, dictionaries, iso8601 dates, and base64-encoded data. Dictionaries must have string keys.

rospy's API is a thin wrapper around Python's builtin xmlrpclib library, so you should consult that documentation on how to properly encode values. In most cases (booleans, ints, floats, strings, arrays, dictionaries), you can use values as-is.

NOTE: parameter server methods are not threadsafe, so if you are using them from multiple threads, you must lock appropriate.

Getting parameters


  • Fetch value from the Parameter Server. You can optionally pass in a default value to use if the parameter is not set. Names are resolved relative to the node's namespace. If you use get_param() to fetch a namespace, a dictionary is returned with the keys equal to the parameter values in that namespace. KeyError is raised if the parameter is not set.

       1 global_name = rospy.get_param("/global_name")
       2 relative_name = rospy.get_param("relative_name")
       3 private_param = rospy.get_param('~private_name')    
       4 default_param = rospy.get_param('default_param', 'default_value')
       6 # fetch a group (dictionary) of parameters
       7 gains = rospy.get_param('gains')
       8 p, i, d = gains['P'], gains['I'], gains['D']

Setting parameters

As described earlier, you can set parameters to store strings, integers, floats, booleans, lists, and dictionaries. You can also use iso8601 dates and base64-encoded data, though those types are discouraged as they are not commonly used in other ROS client libraries. Dictionaries must have string keys as they are considered to be namespaces (see example below).

rospy.set_param(param_name, param_value)

  • Set parameter on the Parameter Server. Names are resolved relative to the node's namespace.

       1 # Using yaml strings
       2 rospy.set_param('a_string', 'baz')
       3 rospy.set_param('~private_int', '2')
       4 rospy.set_param('list_of_floats', "[1., 2., 3., 4.]")
       5 rospy.set_param('bool_True', "true")
       6 rospy.set_param('gains', "{'p': 1, 'i': 2, 'd': 3}")
       8 # Using raw python objects
       9 rospy.set_param_raw('a_string', 'baz')
      10 rospy.set_param_raw('~private_int', 2)
      11 rospy.set_param_raw('list_of_floats', [1., 2., 3., 4.])
      12 rospy.set_param_raw('bool_True', True)
      13 rospy.set_param_raw('gains', {'p': 1, 'i': 2, 'd': 3})
      15 rospy.get_param('gains/P') #should return 1

Parameter existence

Testing for parameter existence is useful if you wish to save network bandwidth transferring the parameter value or if you don't wish to use try/except blocks with get_param and delete_param.


  • Return True if parameter is set, False otherwise.

       1 if rospy.has_param('to_delete'):
       2     rospy.delete_param('to_delete')

Deleting parameters


  • Delete the parameter from the Parameter Server. The parameter must be set (KeyError is raised if not set). Names are resolved relative to the node's namespace.

       1 try:
       2     rospy.delete_param('to_delete')
       3 except KeyError:
       4     print "value not set"

Searching for parameter keys

There are times where you want to get a parameter from the closest namespace. For example, if you have a "robot_name" parameter, you just want to search upwards from your private namespace until you find a matching parameter. Similarly, if you have a group of camera nodes, you may wish to set some parameters commonly in a shared namespace but override others by setting them in private (~name) namespace.

NOTE: in order to use search_param effectively, you should use it with relative names instead of /global and ~private names.


  • Find closest parameter name, starting in the private namespace and searching upwards to the global namespace. Returns None if no match found.

       1 param_name = rospy.search_param('global_example')
       2 v = rospy.get_param(param_name)

Getting parameter names


Wiki: rospy/Overview/Parameter Server (last edited 2016-09-11 08:40:54 by DanielStonier)