Python API Guide


LGSVL Simulator exposes runtime functionality to a Python API which you can use to manipulate object placement and vehicle movement in a loaded scene, retreive sensor configuration and data, control weather, time state, and more.


Using Python API requires Python version 3.5 or later.


After unpacking LGSVL simulator zip file or cloning source from the git repository you should see an Api folder in the root. The Python API interface is fully contained in this folder.

  1. Go inside this folder and run the follwing command to install Python files and necessary dependencies:

    pip3 install --user -e .

  2. Now launch the simulator (either binary .exe file or from Unity Editor) and leave it running in the Menu.unity scene. Simulator by default listens for connections on port 8181.

  3. Run the following example to see the API in action:


    This will load the SanFrancisco.unity scene, instantiate one EGO vehicle, then ask you to press Enter to start driving EGO vehicle in a circle.

When the script is running, it will apply throttle and steering commands to make the car move

Core concepts

The Simulator and API communicate by sending json over a websocket server running on 8181 port. The API client can be either on the same machine or any other machine on the same network.

API exposes the following main types:

  • Simulator - main object for connecting to simulator and creating other objects
  • Agent - superclass of vehicles and pedestrian
  • EgoVehicle - EGO vehicle with accurate physics simulation and sensors
  • NpcVehicle - NPC vehicle with simplified physics, useful for creating many background vehicles
  • Pedestrian - pedestrian walking on sidewalks

Vehicles and Pedestrian are a subclasses of Agent which has common properties like transform, position, and velocity.

All coordinates in the API return values in the Unity coordinate system. This coordinate system uses meters as a unit of distance and is a left-handed coordinate system - x points left, z points forward, and y points up.

The Simulator class provides helper methods to convert coordinates to and from latitude/longitude and northing/easting values.


To connect to the simulator you need to an instance of the Simulator class:

import lgsvl
sim = lgsvl.Simulator("localhost", 8181)

You can specify a different address as hostname or IP address. By default only port 8181 is used for API connection. Only one client can be connected to simulator at a time.

Next, load the scene ("map"). This is done by load method:


Map name is a string representing the name of the scene file in Unity. Currently available scenes:

  • SanFrancisco - large city map
  • SimpleMap - small city map
  • SimpleRoom - for Tugbot robot
  • SimpleLoop - for Duckiebot robot
  • Duckietown - for Duckiebot robot
  • DuckieDowntown - for Duckiebot robot

Check the Unity project for a full list of available scenes.

Once a scene is loaded you can instantiate agents and run simulations. See the Agents section on how to create vehicles and pedestrians.

Loading scenes takes a while, to reset a scene to the initial state without reloading it call the reset method:


This will remove any vehicles or callbacks currently registered.

After setting up the scene in a desired state you can start advancing time. During python code execution time is stopped in the simulator. The only way to advance time in the simulator is to call the run method: = 5.0)

run accepts an optional argument for a time limit specifying how long to run. The default value of 0 will run infinitely.

Diagram illustrating API execution:


You can create vehicles and pedestrians by calling the add_agent method of the Simulator object. Example:

ego = sim.add_agent("XE_Rigged-apollo", lgsvl.AgentType.EGO)

This will create an EGO vehicle from the XE_Rigged-apollo template. Other AgentTypes available are:

  • AgentType.EGO - EGO vehicle
  • AgentType.NPC - NPC vehicle
  • AgentType.PEDESTRIAN - pedestrian

Each agent type has predefined names you can use. Currently availble EGO vehicles:

  • XE_Rigged-apollo - Apollo 3.0 vehicle
  • XE_Rigged-apollo_3_5 - Apollo 3.5 vehicle
  • XE_Rigged-autoware - Autoware vehicle
  • Tugbot - Tugbot warehouse robot
  • duckiebot-duckietown-ros1 - Duckiebot robot for ROS1
  • duckiebot-duckietown-ros2 - Duckiebot robot for ROS2

Available NPC vehicles:

  • Sedan
  • SUV
  • Jeep
  • HatchBack
  • SchoolBus
  • DeliveryTruck

Available pedestrian types:

  • Bob
  • Entrepreneur
  • Howard
  • Johnny
  • Pamela
  • Presley
  • Robin
  • Stephen
  • Zoe

If an incorrect name is entered, a Python exception will be thrown.

Optionally you can create agents in specific positions and orientations in the scene. For this you need to use the AgentState class. For example:

state = lgsvl.AgentState()
state.transform.position = lgsvl.Vector(10, 0, 30)
state.transform.rotation.y = 90
ego = sim.add_agent("XE_Rigged-apollo", lgsvl.AgentType.EGO, state)

This will create a vehicle at position x=10, z=30 which is rotated 90 degrees around the vertical axis. The position and rotation are set in the world coordinates space.

You can always adjust the position, rotation, velocity and angular velocity of the agent at any later time:

s = ego.state
s.velocity.x = -50
ego.state = s

This will set x component of velocity (in world coordinate space) to -50 meters per second and leave y and z components of velocity unmodified.

All agents have the following common functionality:

  • state - property to get or set agent state (position, velocity, ...)
  • transform - property to get transform member of the state (shortcut for state.transform)
  • bounding_box - property to get bounding box in local coordinate space. Note that bounding box is not centered around (0,0,0) - it depends on the actual geometry of the agent.
  • on_collision - method to set a callback function to be called when the agent collides with something (other agent or static obstacle), see callbacks section for more information.

EGO vehicle

EGO vehicle has following additional functionality:

  • apply_control - method to apply specified throttle, break, steering or other actions to vehicle. Pass sticky=True to apply these values on every simulation update iteration.
  • get_sensors - method to return list of sensors
  • connect_bridge - method to connect to ROS or Cyber RT bridge
  • bridge_connected - bool property, True if bridge is connected

You can control the movement of the EGO vehicle either by manually specifying state, applying manual control, or connecting through the bridge.

Example to apply constant 20% throttle to EGO vehicle:

ego = sim.add_agent("XE_Rigged-apollo", lgsvl.AgentType.EGO)
c = lgsvl.VehicleControl()
c.throttle = 0.2
ego.apply_control(c, True)

NPC vehicles

You can create multiple NPC vehicles on the map to drive along the lanes or follow specific waypoints on the map.

NPC vehicle has the following additional functionality:

  • change_lane - method to make the vehicle change lanes
  • follow - method to make vehicle follow specific waypoints
  • follow_closest_lane - method to make vehicle follow lanes
  • on_waypoint_reached - method to set callback function which is called for every waypoint the vehicle reaches
  • on_stop_line - method to set callback function which is called when vehicle reaches a stop line at interesection
  • on_lane_change - method to set callback function which is called when vehicle decides to change lanes

You can control the movement of an NPC vehicle either by manually specifying state, or instructing it to follow waypoints or lanes.

To make an NPC follow waypoints prepare a list of DriveWaypoint objects and call the follow method for the npc vehicle:

npc = sim.add_agent("Sedan", lgsvl.AgentType.NPC)
waypoints = [
  lgsvl.DriveWaypoint(lgsvl.Vector(1,0,3), 5),
  lgsvl.DriveWaypoint(lgsvl.Vector(5,0,3), 10),
  lgsvl.DriveWaypoint(lgsvl.Vector(1,0,5), 5),
npc.follow(waypoints, loop=True)

Each waypoint has a position in world coordinates and a desired velocity in m/s. The NPC will ignore all traffic rules and will not avoid collisions to try to get to the next waypoint. You can receive information on progress by setting the on_waypoint_reached callback. Example (see callbacks for more details):

npc = sim.add_agent("Sedan", lgsvl.AgentType.NPC)

def on_waypoint(agent, index):
  print("waypoint {} reached".format(index))

npc.follow(waypoints, loop=True)

follow_closest_lane will make the NPC vehicle follow whatever lane is the closest. Upon reaching intersections it will randomly decide to either drive straight or turn.


You can create Pedestrian agents that will allow you to create pedestrians on sidewalks and make them walk.

Pedestrians have the following additional functionality:

  • walk_randomly - method to make pedestrian walk randomly on the sidewalk
  • follow - method to make pedestrian follow specific waypoints
  • on_waypoint_reached - method to set callback function which is called for every waypoint reached

You can control the movement of pedestrians either by manually specifying state, or instructing them to follow waypoints or walk randomly.

To make pedestrians follow waypoints prepare a list of WalkWaypoint objects and call the follow method for pedestrians:

npc = sim.add_agent("Bob", lgsvl.AgentType.PEDESTRIAN)
waypoints = [
  lgsvl.WalkWaypoint(lgsvl.Vector(1,0,3), 5),
  lgsvl.WalkWaypoint(lgsvl.Vector(5,0,3), 10),
  lgsvl.WalkWaypoint(lgsvl.Vector(1,0,5), 5),
npc.follow(waypoints, loop=True)

Each waypoint has a position in world coordinates and an idle time that the pedestrian will spend standing in-place when it reaches the waypoint. You can receive information on progress by setting the on_waypoint_reached callback.


The Python API can invoke callbacks to inform you of specific events that occur during simulator runtime. Callbacks are invoked from inside the method and while a callback is running the simulation time is paused. Once the callback finishes time is resumed and the simulation resumes execution. You can call Simulator.stop to stop further execution and return immediately from the callback.

The internals of this process are illustrated in the following sequence diagram:

Here the code resumes simulation after the first callback, but stops execution when the second callback is handled.

You set callback functions by calling on_NAME method of object, see information below.

Agent callbacks

collision - called when agent collides with something (other agent or stationary obstacle).

Example usage:

def on_collision(agent1, agent2, contact):
  name1 = "STATIC OBSTACLE" if agent1 is None else
  name2 = "STATIC OBSTACLE" if agent2 is None else
  print("{} collided with {} at {}".format(name1, name2, contact))


Callback receives three arguments: (agent1, agent2, contact) - the first two are the agents that collide, one of them can be None if it is a stationary obstacle like a building or a traffic light pole, and the third is the world position of the contact point.

NpcVehicle callbacks

In addition to Agent callbacks, NpcVehicle has three extra callbacks:

waypoint_reached - called when vehicle reaches a waypoint; accepts two arguments: (agent, index) - agent instance and waypoint index as integer

stop_line - called when vehicle stops at a stop line for a traffic light or stop sign; accepts one argument: (agent) - agent instance

lane_change - called when vehicle starts changing lane; accepts one argument: (agent) - agent instance

Pedestrian callbacks

In addition to Agent callbacks, Pedestrian has one extra callback.

waypoint_reached - called when pedestrian reaches waypoint; accepts two arguments: (agent, index) - agent instance and waypoint index as integer.


EGO vehicles have sensors attached. You can get a list of them by calling EgoVehicle.get_sensors() which returns a Python list with instances of the following classes:

  • CameraSensor - see Camera sensor
  • LidarSensor - see Lidar sensor
  • ImuSensor - see IMU sensor
  • GpsSensor - see GPS sensor
  • RadarSensor - see Radar sensor
  • CanBusSensor - see CAN bus

Each sensor has the following common members:

  • name - name of sensor, to diffrentiate sensors of the same type, for example, to choose one out of multiple cameras attached to EgoVehicle
  • transform - property that contains position and rotation of a sensor relative to the agent transform
  • enabled - bool property, set to True if sensor is enabled for capturing and sending data to ROS or Cyber bridge

Camera Sensor

The Camera sensor has the following read only properties:

  • frequency - rate at which images are captured & sent to ROS or Cyber bridge
  • width - image width
  • height - image height
  • fov - vertical field of view in degrees
  • near_plane - distance of near plane
  • far_plane - distance of far plane
  • format - format of image ("RGB" for 24-bit color image, "DEPTH" - 8-bit grayscale depth buffer, "SEMANTIC" - 24-bit color image with sematic segmentation)

Camera image can be saved to disk by calling save:

ego = sim.add_agent("XE_Rigged-apollo", lgsvl.AgentType.EGO)

for sensor in ego.get_sensors():
  if = "Main Camera":"main-camera.png", compression=0)

save method accepts a path relative to the running simulator, and an optional compression for png files (0...9) or quality (0..100) for jpeg files.

Lidar Sensor

Lidar sensor has following read only properties:

  • min_distance - minimal distance for capturing points
  • max_distance - maximum distance for capturing points
  • rays - how many laser rays (vertically) to use
  • rotations - frequency of rotation, typically 10Hz
  • measurements - how many measurmenets per rotation each ray is taking
  • fov - vertical field of view (bottom to top ray) in degrees
  • angle - angle lidar is tilted (middle of fov view)
  • compensated - bool, whether lidar point cloud is compensated

Lidar point cloud can be saved to disk as a .pcd file by calling save:

ego = sim.add_agent("XE_Rigged-apollo", lgsvl.AgentType.EGO)

for sensor in ego.get_sensors():
  if = "velodyne":"lidar.pcd")

A .pcd file is in the binary Point Cloud Data format where each point has x/y/z coordinates as 4-byte floats and a 1-byte unsigned int as intensity (0...255).

IMU Sensor

You can use the IMU sensor to get its position in the vehicle. All measurements an IMU would provide can be obtained by using the transform property of the agent.

GPS Sensor

You can retrieve the current GPS location from the GPS sensor by calling data:

data =
print("Latitude:", data.latitude)

Returned data will contain following fields:

  • latitude
  • longitude
  • northing
  • easting
  • altitude
  • orientation - rotation around up-axis in degrees

Radar Sensor

Currently the Radar sensor can be used only to get its position and rotation in the vehicle. Radar measurements can be received in ROS or Cyber by setting the enabled property of the sensor.

CAN bus

Currently CAN bus can be used only to get its position and rotation in the vehicle. CAN bus messages can be received in ROS or Cyber by setting the enabled property of the sensor.

Weather and Time of Day Control

You can control the weather properties of the simulation by reading or writing to the weather property. You can set rain, fog or wetness (float 0...1). Example:

w =
w.rain = 0.5     # set rain to 50% = w

Changing time of day allows to control whether the loaded scene appears as day or night. To get the current time read the time_of_day property:

print("Current time of day:", sim.time_of_day)

It will return a float between 0 and 24. To set time of day call set_time_of_day:

sim.set_time_of_day(10, fixed=True)

This will set current time of day to 10am. The optional bool argument fixed indicates whether the simulation should advance this time automatically or freeze it and not change it (fixed=True).

Helper Functions

Simulator class offers following helper functions:

  • version - property that returns current version of simulator as string
  • current_scene - property that returns currently loaded scene as string, None if none is loaded
  • current_frame - property that returns currently simulated frame number as integer
  • current_time - property that returns currentl simulation time in seconds as float
  • get_spawn - method that returns list of transforms representing good positions where to place vehicles in the map. This list can be empty, it depends on how the map is prepared in Unity. Returned transforms contain position and rotation members as a Vector
  • get_agents - method that returns a list of currently available agent objets added with add_agent

To map points in Unity coordinates to GPS coordinates the Simulator class offers the following two functions:

  • map_to_gps - maps transform (position & rotation) to GPS location, returns same type as GPS Sensor data method
  • map_from_gps - maps GPS location (latitude/longitude or northing/easting) to transform
  • raycast - shoots a ray from specific location and returns closest object it hits

map_from_gps accepts two different inputs - latitude/longitude or northing/easting. Examples:

tr1 = sim.map_from_gps(latitude=10, longitude=-30)
tr2 = sim.map_from_gps(northing=123455, easting=552341)

Optionally you can pass altitude and orientation.

raycast method can be used in following way:

origin = lgsvl.Vector(10, 0, 20)
direction = lgsvl.Vector(1, 0, 0)
hit = sim.raycast(origin, direction, layer_mask=1)
if hit:
  print("Distance right:", hit.distance)

This will shoot a ray in the positive x-axis direction from the (10,0,20) coordinates. A RaycastHit object with distance, point and normal fields is returned if something is hit, otherwise None is returned.

When raycasting you should specify a layer_mask argument that specifies which objects to check collision with. It corressponds to layers in the Unity project - check the project for actual values.


  • 2019-04-19

    • initial release