Webviz: An Open Source Platform for Robotics Data Visualization

How Cruise visualizes autonomous vehicle data in the browser

Esther S. Weon
Jun 18 · 5 min read
Users can create a Webviz layout by selecting, arranging, and configuring panels. The layout above includes several 3D panels, a Plot panel, and more. Data sources for the visuals included in this post can be found here.

Why we built Webviz

In the early days of Cruise, engineers who wanted to visualize AV data used a suite of tools provided by the ROS open source community. While these tools were powerful, using them required installing a full development environment on a specific platform, and manually positioning windows running separate tools on the screen — e.g., one window for reading log messages, another for drawing graphs, and another for viewing camera images. Engineers could customize their setup for a specific workflow, but replicating the same setup on a teammate’s machine was a time-consuming process.

Webviz is powerful, because its layouts are modular and customizable.

How we built Webviz

At its foundation, Webviz is a web application that lets users configure different layouts of panels. Each panel is a data exploration tool, displaying information like text logs, 2D charts, and 3D depictions of the AV’s environment.

Webviz provides users with a suite of configurable panels, empowering them to build customized environments that support their unique workflows.

How Cruise uses Webviz today

With its configurable interface, Webviz is currently supporting close to a thousand monthly active users spanning dozens of Cruise teams, all with vastly different problems and workflows. As our user base has grown to include AV engineers calibrating LIDAR sensors, machine learning engineers verifying model outputs, and QA engineers debugging test rides, Webviz has become increasingly feature-rich without compromising its flexibility.

Being able to create and save layouts allows Cruise engineers to quickly share with teammates the specialized tools and environment needed for a workflow.

What’s next?

As we continue developing Webviz for both open source and internal use, we plan to add more panels to our open source offering and create a public API for other developers to build new panels encapsulating custom functionality.

Cruise engineers use Webviz to analyze our autonomous vehicles’ drives throughout San Francisco.

Cruise

Cruise builds the world’s most advanced network of self-driving vehicles to safely connect people with the places, things, and experiences they care about.

Thanks to John Reynolds.

Esther S. Weon

Written by

Writer. Software Engineer. Nak Muay.

Cruise

Cruise

Cruise builds the world’s most advanced network of self-driving vehicles to safely connect people with the places, things, and experiences they care about.