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voxl-dfs-server is a background systemd service that subscribes to a stereo image feed and outputs depth information via three pipes at /run/mpa/dfs_[either disparity, dfs_disparity_scaled, or dfs_point_cloud]. Currently only grayscale stereo is supported.


Table of contents

  1. Output Format
  2. voxl-configure-dfs
  3. DFS Server Configuration File
  4. Visualization Options
  5. Troubleshooting
    1. Logging DFS Data
  6. Source

Output Format

The data format is unique to each output pipe:

dfs_disparity: Grayscale image with pixel values corresponding to calculated disparity. Each pixel will be within the range [0, n_disparity_levels], which can be changed in the configuration file.

dfs_disparity_scaled: Grayscale image as above, but pixel values will correspond to scaled disparity values in the range of [0, 255].

dfs_point_cloud: An XYZ pointcloud (as specified by libmodal_pipe in modal_pipe_interfaces.h) with the reprojected distances.

For an example of how to read this data, see voxl-inspect-points.


Like all MPA services, voxl-dfs-server has a basic configure script to enable/disable the service as well as to reset the config file back to default for factory resets.

yocto:/$ voxl-configure-dfs -h

Start wizard with prompts:

Shortcut configuration arguments for scripted setup.
factory_enable will reset the config file to factory defaults
before enabling the service.

voxl-configure-dfs-server disable
voxl-configure-dfs-server factory_disable
voxl-configure-dfs-server factory_enable
voxl-configure-dfs-server enable

show this help message:
voxl-configure-dfs-server help
yocto:/$ voxl-configure-dfs
Starting Wizard

Do you want to reset the config file to factory defaults?
1) yes
2) no
#? 1
wiping old config file
Creating new config file: /etc/modalai/voxl-dfs-server.conf

do you want to enable or disable voxl-dfs-server
1) enable
2) disable
#? 1
enabling  voxl-dfs-server systemd service
Created symlink from /etc/systemd/system/ to /etc/systemd/system/voxl-dfs-server.service.
starting  voxl-dfs-server systemd service
Done configuring voxl-dfs-server

DFS Server Configuration File

The default configuration file has recommended settings for our stereo cameras.

yocto:/$ cat /etc/modalai/voxl-dfs-server.conf
 * This file contains configuration specific to voxl-dfs-server.
 * skip_n_frames
 *                      how many frames to skip between processed frames. For 30hz
 *                      input frame rate, we recommend skipping 5 frames resulting
 *                      in 5hz disparity and depth data.
 * n_disparity_levels
 *                      number of disaprity levels to check, must be positive
 *                      but doesn't need to be a multiple of 16 like opencv.
 *                      For VGA resolution 48 works up to less than a meter away
 *                      but is a bit slow. 24 is faster but only works at longer
 *                      distances.
 * sobel_cutoff
 *                      regions of the image with gradients below this value will
 *                      be ignored. Increase this to reduce false-positives, but
 *                      doing so will also reduce the amount of depth reported
 *                      across the image. 5-10 is a reasonable range.
 * first_median_filter_size
 *                      must be an odd number. This filter serves to remove
 *                      speckles and noise after calculating pixel disparity.
 * en_second_median_filter & second_median_filter_size
 *                      The second median filter can be smaller and serves
 *                      to clean up the edges of objects as well as remove
 *                      any remaining speckles the first filter left
	"skip_n_frames":	5,
	"n_disparity_levels":	48,
	"sobel_cutoff":	5,
	"first_median_filter_size":	17,
	"en_second_median_filter":	true,
	"second_median_filter_size":	7

Visualization Options

You can view either the regular disparity or scaled image streams as another normal camera pipe. As such, it can be viewed with voxl-portal, converted to ROS with voxl_mpa_to_ros, and logged to disk with voxl-logger.

See the image at the top of this page for an example.

The pointcloud can only be viewed with voxl_mpa_to_ros, and we currently do not support logging for this type.


Accurate depth from stereo requires calibrated cameras. The voxl-dfs-server service won’t even start until the specified camera calibration file cannot be found.

Logging DFS Data

Use the following command to log VOA data, this is helpful for offline analysis

voxl-logger --cam stereo --cam dfs_disparity


Source code is available on Gitlab