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Autoware ROS nodes have declared parameters which values are provided during the node start up in the form of a parameter file. All the expected parameters with corresponding values should exist in the parameter file. Depending on the application, the parameter values might need to be modified.

Find more information on parameters from the official ROS documentation:


A ROS package which uses the declare_parameter(...) function should:

The rationale behind this workflow is to have a verified single source of truth to pass to the ROS node and to be used in the web documentation. The approach reduces the risk of using invalid parameter values and makes maintenance of documentation easier. This is achieved by:

  • declare_parameter(...) throws an exception if an expected parameter is missing in the parameter file
  • the schema validates the parameter file in the CI and renders a parameter table, as depicted in the graphics below

    flowchart TD
        NodeSchema[Schema file: *.schema.json]
        ParameterFile[Parameter file: *.param.yaml]
        WebDocumentation[Web documentation table]
        NodeSchema -->|Validation| ParameterFile
        NodeSchema -->|Generate| WebDocumentation

Note: a parameter value can still be modified and bypass the validation, as there is no validation during runtime.

Declare Parameter Function#

It is the declare_parameter(...) function which sets the parameter values during a node startup.


As there is no default_value provided, the function throws an exception if a parameter were to be missing in the provided *.param.yaml file. Use a type from the C++ Type column in the table below for the declare_parameter(...) function, replacing INSERT_TYPE.

ParameterType Enum C++ Type
PARAMETER_BYTE_ARRAY std::vector<uint8_t>
PARAMETER_BOOL_ARRAY std::vector<bool>
PARAMETER_INTEGER_ARRAY std::vector<int64_t>
PARAMETER_DOUBLE_ARRAY std::vector<double>
PARAMETER_STRING_ARRAY std::vector<std::string>

The table has been derived from Parameter Type and Parameter Value.

See example: Lidar Apollo Segmentation TVM Nodes declare function

Parameter File#

The parameter file is minimal as there is no need to provide the user with additional information, e.g., description or type. This is because the associated schema file provides the additional information. Use the template below as a starting point for a ROS node.


Note: /** is used instead of the explicit node namespace, this allows the parameter file to be passed to a ROS node which has been remapped.

To adapt the template to the ROS node, replace each INSERT_PARAMETER_..._NAME and INSERT_PARAMETER_..._VALUE for all parameters. Each declare_parameter(...) takes one parameter as input. All the parameter files should have the .param.yaml suffix so that the auto-format can be applied properly.

Autoware has the following two types of parameter files for ROS packages:

  • Node parameter file
    • Node parameter files store the default parameters provided for each package in Autoware.
    • All nodes in Autoware must have a parameter file if ROS parameters are declared in the node.
    • For FOO_package, the parameter is expected to be stored in FOO_package/config.
    • The launch file for individual packages must load node parameter by default:
  <arg name="foo_node_param_path" default="$(find-pkg-share FOO_package)/config/foo_node.param.yaml" />

  <node pkg="FOO_package" exec="foo_node">
    <param from="$(var foo_node_param_path)" />
  • Launch parameter file
    • When a user creates a launch package for the user's vehicle, the user should copy node parameter files for the nodes that are called in the launch file as "launch parameter files".
    • Launch parameter files are then customized specifically for user's vehicle.
    • The examples for launch parameter files are stored under autoware_launch.

JSON Schema#

JSON Schema is used the validate the parameter file(s) ensuring that it has the correct structure and content. Using JSON Schema for this purpose is considered best practice for cloud-native development. The schema template below shall be used as a starting point when defining the schema for a ROS node.

  "$schema": "",
  "title": "INSERT_TITLE",
  "type": "object",
  "definitions": {
      "type": "object",
      "properties": {
          "type": "INSERT_TYPE",
          "description": "INSERT_DESCRIPTION",
          "default": "INSERT_DEFAULT",
          "type": "INSERT_TYPE",
          "description": "INSERT_DESCRIPTION",
          "default": "INSERT_DEFAULT",
      "additionalProperties": false
  "properties": {
    "/**": {
      "type": "object",
      "properties": {
        "ros__parameters": {
          "$ref": "#/definitions/INSERT_ROS_NODE_NAME"
      "required": ["ros__parameters"],
      "additionalProperties": false
  "required": ["/**"],
  "additionalProperties": false

The schema file path is INSERT_PATH_TO_PACKAGE/schema/ and the schema file name is INSERT_NODE_NAME.schema.json. To adapt the template to the ROS node, replace each INSERT_... and add all parameters 1..N.

See example: Lidar Apollo Segmentation TVM Nodes schema


Parameters have several attributes, some are required and some optional. The optional attributes are highly encouraged when applicable, as they provide useful information about a parameter and can ensure the value of the parameter is within its bounds.



Tips and Tricks#

Using well established standards enables the use of conventional tooling. Below is an example of how to link a schema to the parameter file(s) using VS Code. This enables a developer with convenient features such as auto-complete and parameter bound validation.

In the root directory of where the project is hosted, create a .vscode folder with two files; extensions.json containing

  "recommendations": ["redhat.vscode-yaml"]

and settings.json containing

  "yaml.schemas": {
    "./INSERT_PATH_TO_PACKAGE/schema/INSERT_NODE_NAME.schema.json": "**/INSERT_NODE_NAME/config/*.param.yaml"

The RedHat YAML extension enables validation of YAML files using JSON Schema and the "yaml.schemas" setting associates the *.schema.json file with all *.param.yaml files in the config/ folder.