Setting Up Lifecycle and Composition Nodes

In this guide, we will discuss two new concepts in ROS 2, namely Lifecycle and Composition. In the first section of this guide, we discuss the concept of Lifecyle in Nav2 and how to add a lifecycle nodes to make use of it. In the second section, we discuss the purpose of Composition and how to implement it in Nav2.


Lifecycle is introduced in ROS 2 to systematically manage the bringup and shutdown of the different nodes involved in the robot’s operation. The use of Lifecycle nodes ensures that all nodes are successfully instantiated before they begin their execution and Nav2 shuts down all nodes if there is any unresponsive node.

Lifecycle nodes contain state machine transitions that enable deterministic behavior in ROS 2 servers. The Lifecycle node transitions in Nav2 are handled by the Lifecycle Manager. The Lifecycle Manager transitions the states of the Lifecycle nodes and provides greater control over the state of a system.

The primary states of a Lifecycle node are Unconfigured, Inactive, Active, and Finalized. A Lifecycle node starts in an Unconfigured state after being instantiated. The Lifecycle Manager transitions a node from Unconfigured to Inactive by implementing the Configurating transition. The Configurating transition sets up all configuration parameters and prepares any required setup such as memory allocation and the set up of the static publication and subscription topics. A node in the Inactive state is allowed to reconfigure its parameters and but cannot perform any processing. From the Inactive state, the Lifecyle Manager implements the Activating transition state to transition the node from Inactive to Active, which is the main state. A node in the Active state is allowed to perform any processing operation. In case a node crashes, the Lifecycle Manager shuts down the system to prevent any critical failures. On shutdown, the necessary cleanup operations are performed and the nodes are transitioned to the Finalized state via Deactivating, CleaningUp, and ShuttingDown transition states.

See also

For more information on Lifecycle management, see the article on Managed Nodes.

The Lifecycle node framework is heavily used by the Nav2 servers, such as the planner and controller servers which were discussed in the previous tutorial.

You may wish to integrate your own nodes into the Nav2 framework or add new lifecycle nodes to your system. As an example, we will add a new notional lifecycle node sensor_driver, and have it be controlled via the Nav2 Lifecycle Manager to ensure sensor feeds are available before activating navigation. You can do so by adding a sensor_driver node in your launch file and adding it to the list of nodes to be activated by the lifecycle_manager before navigation, as shown in the example below.

lifecycle_nodes = ['sensor_driver',



    parameters=[{'autostart': autostart},
                {'node_names': lifecycle_nodes}]),

In the snippet above, the nodes to be handled by the Lifecycle Manager are set using the node_names parameter. The node_names parameter takes in an ordered list of nodes to bringup through the Lifecycle transition. As shown in the snippet, the node_names parameter takes in lifecycle_nodes which contains the list of nodes to be added to the Lifecycle Manager. The Lifecycle Manager implements bringup transitions (Configuring and Activating) to the nodes one-by-one and in order, while the nodes are processed in reverse order for shutdown transitions. Hence, the sensor_driver is listed first before the other navigation servers so that the sensor data is available before the navigation servers are activated.

Two other parameters of the Lifecycle Manager are autostart and bond_timeout. Set autostart to true if you want to set the transition nodes to the Active state on startup. Otherwise, you will need to manually trigger Lifecycle Manager to transition up the system. The bond_timeout sets the waiting time to decide when to transition down all of the nodes if a node is not responding.


More information on Lifecycle Manager parameters can be found in the Configuration Guide of Lifecycle Manager


Composition is another new concept in ROS 2 that was introduced to reduce the memory and CPU resources by putting multiple nodes in a single process. In Nav2, Composition can be used to compose all Nav2 nodes in a single process instead of launching them separately. This is useful for deployment on embedded systems where developers need to optimize resource usage.

See also

More information on Composition can be found here.

In the following section, we give an example on how to add a new Nav2 server, which we notionally call the route_server, to our system.

Dynamic Composition

In dynamic composition, we make use of the launch files to compose different servers into a single process. The process is established by the ComposableNodeContainer container that is populated with composition nodes via ComposableNode. This container can then be launched and used the same as any other Nav2 node.

  1. Add a new ComposableNode() instance in your launch file pointing to the component container of your choice.

    container = ComposableNodeContainer(

    See also

    See example in composition demo’s

  2. Add the package containing the server to your package.xml file.



In this section of the guide, we have discussed Lifecycle and Composition nodes which are new and important concepts in ROS 2. We also showed how to implement Lifecycle and Composition to your newly created nodes/servers with Nav2. These two concepts are helpful to efficiently run your system and therefore are encouraged to be used throughout Nav2.