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Receive, send, and apply ROS transformations


Calling the rostf function creates a ROS TransformationTree object, which allows you to access the tf coordinate transformations that are shared on the ROS network. You can receive transformations and apply them to different entities. You can also send transformations and share them with the rest of the ROS network.

ROS uses the tf transform library to keep track of the relationship between multiple coordinate frames. The relative transformations between these coordinate frames are maintained in a tree structure. Querying this tree lets you transform entities like poses and points between any two coordinate frames. To access available frames, use the syntax:


Use the ros.TransformationTree syntax when connecting to a specific ROS node, otherwise use rostf to create the transformation tree.




tfTree = rostf creates a ROS TransformationTree object.


trtree = ros.TransformationTree(node) creates a ROS transformation tree object handle that the transformation tree is attached to. The node is the node connected to the ROS network that publishes transformations.


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This property is read-only.

List of all available coordinate frames, specified as a cell array. This list of available frames updates if new transformations are received by the transformation tree object.

Example: {'camera_center';'mounting_point';'robot_base'}

Data Types: cell

This property is read-only.

Time when the last transform was received, specified as a ROS Time object.

This property is read-only.

Length of time transformations are buffered, specified as a scalar in seconds. If you change the buffer time from the current value, the transformation tree and all transformations are reinitialized. You must wait for the entire buffer time to be completed to get a fully buffered transformation tree.

Object Functions

waitForTransformWait until a transformation is available
getTransformRetrieve transformation between two coordinate frames
transformTransform message entities into target coordinate frame
sendTransformSend transformation to ROS network


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Connect to a ROS network and create a transformation tree.

Connect to a ROS network. Specify the IP address.

Initializing global node /matlab_global_node_20832 with NodeURI

Create a transformation tree. Use the AvailableFrames property to see the transformation frames available. These transformations were specified separately prior to connecting to the network.

tree = rostf;
ans = 36×1 cell
    {'base_footprint'            }
    {'base_link'                 }
    {'camera_depth_frame'        }
    {'camera_link'               }
    {'camera_rgb_frame'          }
    {'camera_rgb_optical_frame'  }
    {'caster_back_link'          }
    {'caster_front_link'         }
    {'cliff_sensor_front_link'   }
    {'cliff_sensor_left_link'    }
    {'cliff_sensor_right_link'   }
    {'gyro_link'                 }
    {'mount_asus_xtion_pro_link' }
    {'odom'                      }
    {'plate_bottom_link'         }
    {'plate_middle_link'         }
    {'plate_top_link'            }
    {'pole_bottom_0_link'        }
    {'pole_bottom_1_link'        }
    {'pole_bottom_2_link'        }
    {'pole_bottom_3_link'        }
    {'pole_bottom_4_link'        }
    {'pole_bottom_5_link'        }
    {'pole_kinect_0_link'        }
    {'pole_kinect_1_link'        }
    {'pole_middle_0_link'        }
    {'pole_middle_1_link'        }
    {'pole_middle_2_link'        }
    {'pole_middle_3_link'        }

Disconnect from the ROS network.

Shutting down global node /matlab_global_node_20832 with NodeURI

Create a ROS transformation tree. You can then view or use transformation information for different coordinate frames setup in the ROS network.

Start ROS network and broadcast sample transformation data.

Launching ROS Core...
.......................................................Done in 1.1165 seconds.
Initializing ROS master on
Initializing global node /matlab_global_node_30117 with NodeURI http://bat1072808glnxa64:35955/
node = ros.Node('/testTf');
Using Master URI http://localhost:55328 from the global node to connect to the ROS master.

Retrieve the TransformationTree object. Pause to wait for tftree to update.

tftree = ros.TransformationTree(node);

View available coordinate frames and the time when they were last received.

frames = tftree.AvailableFrames
frames = 3x1 cell
    {'camera_center' }
    {'robot_base'    }

updateTime = tftree.LastUpdateTime
updateTime = 
  ROS Time with properties:

     Sec: 1.6018e+09
    Nsec: 72616469

Wait for the transform between two frames, 'camera_center' and 'robot_base'. This will wait until the transformation is valid and block all other operations. A time out of 5 seconds is also given.


Define a point in the camera's coordinate frame.

pt = rosmessage('geometry_msgs/PointStamped');
pt.Header.FrameId = 'camera_center';
pt.Point.X = 3;
pt.Point.Y = 1.5;
pt.Point.Z = 0.2;

Transform the point into the 'base_link' frame.

tfpt = transform(tftree, 'robot_base', pt)
tfpt = 
  ROS PointStamped message with properties:

    MessageType: 'geometry_msgs/PointStamped'
         Header: [1x1 Header]
          Point: [1x1 Point]

  Use showdetails to show the contents of the message

Display the transformed point coordinates.

ans = 
  ROS Point message with properties:

    MessageType: 'geometry_msgs/Point'
              X: 1.2000
              Y: 1.5000
              Z: -2.5000

  Use showdetails to show the contents of the message

Clear ROS node. Shut down ROS master.

Shutting down global node /matlab_global_node_30117 with NodeURI http://bat1072808glnxa64:35955/
Shutting down ROS master on
Introduced in R2019b