Workbench for Offline Robotics Development (SWORD) Creates Easy ROS Programming for Robots

Southwest Research Institute is simplifying robotics programming with a toolkit that embeds computer-aided design (CAD) into robotics motion planning, modeling, and execution.

The SwRI Workbench for Offline Robotics Development (SWORD) has a user-friendly graphical interface to demystify the fundamental coding required in robot operating system (ROS) application development.

SwRI developed SWORD so manufacturing engineers can leverage CAD knowledge to unlock more complex capabilities within the ROS codebase. SwRI manages the ROS-Industrial Americas Consortium and supports ROS-I software repositories, executing training and developer events.

SWORD features a graphical toolkit for setting up motion planning environments and collision geometries. It can also test advanced robotic motion-planning applications. Implemented as a plugin to the open-source FreeCAD application, SWORD allows users to integrate robotics capabilities in a cross-platform CAD environment.

It provides a graphical interface to many powerful motion-planning libraries. The goal is to adapt ROS for manufacturing and industrial audiences in a way that is more approachable in a familiar environment.

SWORD is designed for both robotics developers and manufacturing engineers familiar with CAD processes and programs on process-oriented systems.


  • Create or import CAD models of the robot, including fixtures and end-of-arm-tooling
  • Manipulate and control robot model using joint sliders and simulate tool movement with a dragger to evaluate and calculate joint configurations
  • Generate motion plans using commercial path planners, creating custom pipelines for application-specific behavior while predicting and avoiding collisions
  • Define robot motion using coordinate-based or joint waypoints, specifying different movement segment types and motion groups while inserting supplementary commands
  • Scriptable for customization
  • Embedded in CAD
  • Vendor and robot-agnostic

A trial version is available upon request:

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI)
San Antonio, TX
(210) 522-3251