C++ Vehicle App Development

Learn how to develop and test a Vehicle App using C++.

We recommend that you make yourself familiar with the Vehicle App SDK first, before going through this tutorial.

The following information describes how to develop and test the sample Vehicle App that is included in the SDK repository. You will learn how to use the Vehicle App SDK and how to interact with the Vehicle Model.

Once you have completed all steps, you will have a solid understanding of the development workflow and you will be able to reuse the template repository for your own Vehicle App development project.

Develop your first Vehicle App

This section describes how to develop your first Vehicle App. Before you start building a new Vehicle App, make sure you have already read the other manuals:

Once you have established your development environment, you will be able to start developing your first Vehicle App.

For this tutorial, you will recreate the vehicle app that is included with the SDK repository: The Vehicle App allows to change the positions of the seats in the car and also provide their current positions to other applications.

A detailed explanation of the use case and the example is available here.

At first, you have to create the main c++ file which we will call App.cpp in /app/src. All the relevant code for new Vehicle App goes there. Afterwards, there are several steps you need to consider when developing the app:

  1. Manage your includes
  2. Initialize your class
  3. Start the app

Manage your imports

Before you start development in the App.cpp you just created, it will be necessary to include all required files, which you will understand better later through the development:

#include "sdk/VehicleApp.h"
#include "sdk/IPubSubClient.h"
#include "sdk/IVehicleDataBrokerClient.h"
#include "sdk/Logger.h"

#include "vehicle_model/Vehicle.h"

#include <memory>

using namespace velocitas;

Initialize your class

The main class of your new Vehicle App needs to inherit the VehicleApp provided by the SDK.

class MyVehicleApp : public VehicleApp {
    // <remaining code in this tutorial goes here>
    ::Vehicle Vehicle; // this member exists to provide simple access to the vehicle model

In your constructor, you have to choose which implementations to use for the VehicleDataBrokerClient and the PubSubClient. By default we suggest you use the factory methods to generate the default implementations: IVehicleDataBrokerClient::createInstance and IPubSubClient::createInstance. These will create a VehicleDataBrokerClient which connects to the VAL via gRPC and an MQTT-based pub-sub client.

    : VehicleApp(IVehicleDataBrokerClient::createInstance("vehicledatabroker"), // this is the dapr-app-id of the KUKSA Databroker in the VAL.
                 IPubSubClient::createInstance("localhost:1883", "MyVehicleApp")) // the URI to the MQTT broker and the client ID of the MQTT client.

Now, you have initialized the app and can continue developing relevant methods.

Start the app

Here’s an example of how to start the MyVehicleApp app that we just developed:

int main(int argc, char** argv) {
    MyVehicleApp app;
    return 0;

The app is now running. In order to use it properly, we will enhance the app with more features in the next sections.

Vehicle Model

In order to facilitate the implementation, the whole vehicle is abstracted into model classes. Please check tutorial about creating models for more details about this topic. In this section, the focus is on using the models.

Import the model

The first thing you need to do to get access to the Vehicle Model. In the section about distributing a model, you got to know the different methods.

If you just want to use your model in one app, you can simply copy the classes into your src-folder. In this example, you find the classes inside the vehicle_model-folder. As you have already seen in the section about initializing the app, we need the vehicle model to use the app.

As you know, the model has a single Datapoint for the speed and a reference to the cabin-model.

Accessing the speed can be done via

auto vehicleSpeedBlocking = getDataPoint(Vehicle.Speed)->await();
getDataPoint(Vehicle.Speed)->onResult([](auto vehicleSpeed){
    logger().info("Got speed!");

getDataPoint() returns a shared_ptr to an AsyncResult which, as the name implies, is the result of an asynchronous operation. We have two options to access the value of the asynchronous result. First we can use await() and block the calling thread until a result is available or use onResult(...) which allows us to inject a function pointer or a lambda which is called once the result becomes available.

If you want to get deeper inside the vehicle, to access a single seat for example, you just have to go the model-chain down:

auto driverSeatPosition = getDataPoint(Vehicle.Cabin.Seat.Row(1).Pos(1).Position)->await();

Subscription to Datapoints

If you want to get notified about changes of a specific DataPoint, you can subscribe to this event, e.g. as part of the onStart-method in your app.

void onStart() override {
        ->onItem([this](auto&& item) { onSeatPositionChanged(std::forward<decltype(item)>(item)); })
        ->onError([this](auto&& status) { onError(std::forward<decltype(status)>(status)); });

void onSeatPositionChanged(const DataPointsResult& result) {
    const auto dataPoint = result.get(Vehicle.Cabin.Seat.Row(1).Pos(1).Position);
    // do something with the data point value

The VehicleApp class provides the subscribeDataPoints-method which allows to listen for changes on one or many data points. Once a change in any of the data points is registered, the callback registered via AsyncSubscription::onItem is called. Conversely, the callback registered via AsyncSubscription::onError is called once there is any error during communication with the KUKSA data broker.

The result passed to the callback registered via onItem is an object of type DataPointsResult which holds all data points that have changed. Individual data points can be accessed directly by their reference: result.get(Vehicle.Cabin.Seat.Row(1).Pos(1).Position))


Services are used to communicate with other parts of the vehicle. Please read the basics about them here.

The following few lines show you how to use the moveComponent-method of the SeatService you have created:

vehicle::cabin::SeatService::SeatLocation location{1, 1};
    location, vehicle::cabin::SeatService::Component::Base, 300

In order to know which seat to move, you have to pass a SeatLocation object as the first parameter. The second argument specifies the component to be moved. The possible components are defined in the proto-files. The last parameter to be passed into the method is the final position of the component.

Make sure to call the await() method when calling service methods or register a callback via onResult() otherwise you don’t know when your asynchronous call will finish.


Interaction with other Vehicle Apps or the cloud is enabled by using Mosquitto MQTT Broker. The MQTT broker runs inside a docker image, which is started automatically after starting the DevContainer.

In the quickstart section about the Vehicle App, you already tested sending MQTT messages to the app. In the previous sections, you generally saw how to use Vehicle Models, Datapoints and GRPC Services. In this section, you will learn how to combine them with MQTT.

In order to receive and process MQTT messages inside your app, simply use the VehicleApp::subscribeTopic method provided by the SDK:

void onStart() override {
        ->onItem([this](auto&& item){ onSetPositionRequestReceived(std::forward<decltype(item)>(item);)});

void onSetPositionRequestReceived(const std::string& data) {
    const auto jsonData = nlohmann::json::parse(data);
    const auto responseTopic = "seatadjuster/setPosition/response";
    nlohmann::json respData({{"requestId", jsonData["requestId"]}, {"result", {}}});

The onSetPositionRequestReceived method will now be invoked every time a message is created on the subscribed topic "seatadjuster/setPosition/response". The message data (string) is provided as parameter. In the example above the data is parsed to json (data = json.loads(data_str)).

In order to publish data to other subscribers, the SDK provides the appropriate convenience method: VehicleApp::publishToTopic(...)

void MyVehicleApp::onSeatPositionChanged(const DataPointsResult& result):
    const auto responseTopic = "seatadjuster/currentPosition";
    nlohmann::json respData({"position": result.get(Vehicle.Cabin.Seat.Row(1).Pos(1).Position)->value()});


The above example illustrates how one can easily publish messages. In this case, every time the seat position changes, the new position is published to seatadjuster/currentPosition

See the results

Once the implementation is done, it is time to run and debug the app.

Build your App

Before you can run the Vehicle App you need to build it first. To do so, simply run the provided build.sh script found in the root of the SDK. It does accept some arguments, but that is out of scope for this tutorial.

Run your App

If you want to run the app together with a Dapr sidecar and use the Dapr middleware, you have to use the “dapr run …” command to start your app:

dapr run --app-id myvehicleapp --app-port 50008 --config ./.dapr/config.yaml --components-path ./.dapr/components build/bin/App

You already have seen this command and how to check if it is working in the general setup.

2 parameters may be unclear in this command:

  • the config file config.yaml
  • the components-path

For now, you just need to know that these parameters are needed to make everything work together.

The config.yaml has to be placed in the folder called .dapr and has the following content:

apiVersion: dapr.io/v1alpha1
kind: Configuration
 name: config
   samplingRate: "1"
     endpointAddress: http://localhost:9411/api/v2/spans
   - name: proxy.grpc
     enabled: true

An important part is the enabling of the GRPC proxy, to make the communication work.

Inside the .dapr folder you find another folder called components. There you only find one configuration file for the MQTT communication with the following content:

apiVersion: dapr.io/v1alpha1
kind: Component
  name: mqtt-pubsub
  namespace: default
  type: pubsub.mqtt
  version: v1
  - name: url
    value: "mqtt://localhost:1883"
  - name: qos
    value: 1
  - name: retain
    value: "false"
  - name: cleanSession
    value: "false"

If you want to know more about dapr and the configuration, please visit the dapr documentation.

Debug your Vehicle App

In the introduction about debugging, you saw how to start a debugging session. In this section, you will learn what is happening in the background.

The debug session launch settings are already prepared for the VehicleApp.

"configurations": [
        "name": "VehicleApp - Debug (dapr)",
        "type": "cppdbg",
        "request": "launch",
        "program": "${workspaceFolder}/build/bin/App",
        "args": [],
        "stopAtEntry": false,
        "cwd": "${workspaceFolder}",
        "environment": [
                "name": "DAPR_GRPC_PORT",
                "value": "50001"
                "name": "DAPR_HTTP_PORT",
                "value": "3500"
        "externalConsole": false,
        "MIMode": "gdb",
        "setupCommands": [
                "description": "Enable pretty-printing for gdb",
                "text": "-enable-pretty-printing",
                "ignoreFailures": true
                "description": "Set Disassembly Flavor to Intel",
                "text": "-gdb-set disassembly-flavor intel",
                "ignoreFailures": true
        "preLaunchTask": "dapr-VehicleApp-run",
        "postDebugTask": "dapr-VehicleApp-stop"

We specify which binary to run using the program key. With the preLaunchTask and postDebugTask keys, you can also specify tasks to run before or after debugging. In this example, DAPR is set up to start the app before and stop it again after debugging. Below you can see the 2 tasks.

    "label": "dapr-VehicleApp-run",
    "appId": "myvehicleapp",
    "componentsPath": "./.dapr/components",
    "config": "./.dapr/config.yaml",
    "grpcPort": 50001,
    "httpPort": 3500,
    "type": "dapr",
    "presentation": {
        "close": true,
        "reveal": "never"
    "label": "dapr-VehicleApp-stop",
    "type": "shell",
    "command": [
        "dapr stop --app-id myvehicleapp"
    "presentation": {
        "close": true,
        "reveal": "never"

Lastly, the environment variables can also be specified.

You can adapt the JSON to your needs (e.g., change the ports, add new tasks) or even add a completely new configuration for another Vehicle App.

Once you are done, you have to switch to the debugging tab (sidebar on the left) and select your configuration using the dropdown on the top. You can now start the debug session by clicking the play button or F5. Debugging is now as simple as in every other IDE, just place your breakpoints and follow the flow of your Vehicle App.

Next steps

Last modified January 17, 2023: Changed overview picture (#51) (ea5274b)