GitHub Issue Management

Drake uses GitHub issues to coordinate bug resolution and feature development. We organize issues using labels. Each label uses the format group: value, where group is one of the following:

  • team: Indicates the engineering team that owns the issue.
  • type: Indicates the nature of the issue.
  • priority: Indicates the urgency of resolution.
  • configuration: The supported configurations affected, if applicable.
  • status: PRs only. Indicates the status of the PR.

Please only assign labels if you are reasonably confident they are correct. The Drake development team will apply appropriate labels to issues during the weekly scrub.


All GitHub issues should have an owner. The Platform Reviewer should check once per day that all unassigned issues have an appropriate owner.


Every issue must have at least one team label. If no team agrees to own an issue at the weekly tracker scrub, the issue will be closed with an explanation. The teams, their leads, and their responsibilities are:

  • dynamics

    lead: sherm1

    responsibilities: physical accuracy, numerical methods, collision

  • interfaces

    lead: TBD

    responsibilities: integration with other robotics frameworks

  • kitware

    lead: billhoffman

    responsibilities: build, continuous integration

  • optimization

    lead: ggould-tri

    responsibilities: optimizers, solvers, symbolic analysis

  • robot locomotion group

    lead: RussTedrake

    responsibilities: MIT CSAIL research lab

  • sensors

    lead: ErikSobel-TRI

    responsibilities: modeling light, sound, and devices

  • software core

    lead: david-german-tri

    responsibilities: APIs, infrastructure, productivity

  • 6.832

    lead: RussTedrake

    responsibilities: MIT underactuated robotics course


Every issue must have at least one type, and typically should have exactly one. Issues that require a code change will typically have type bug, feature request, or cleanup. There are a number of niche types for other kinds of issues, and the exact set is expected to evolve over time.


The emergency priority indicates that the owning team should not work on anything else until the issue is resolved. A postmortem document should be opened at the same time as the emergency issue, linked in the description, and updated as the situation evolves. Exception: broken builds are emergencies, but a postmortem document is not required.

The high, medium, low, and backlog priority levels have semantics determined by the owning team. The following rules of thumb may be useful:

  • high-priority issues are planned to receive attention within the month.
  • medium-priority issues are planned to receive attention within the quarter.
  • low-priority issues may be planned for a subsequent quarter.
  • backlog-priority issues will be handled on an ad-hoc basis, as time permits.


An issue may have configuration linux or mac. It may additionally have configuration matlab. If no configuration label is present, the issue is assumed to affect all configurations.


For the most part, we rely on to communicate PR status. There are only two status labels. Both flags are optional, but Drake administrators managing the PR queue will respect them.

  • do not review: Use this status to indicate you do not want anyone to review your PR right now. This is useful if you created the PR to trigger CI and plan to iterate on the results. Even if this flag is absent, you are responsible for finding reviewers, as documented in developers. This flag simply protects you from unsolicited review.
  • do not merge: Use this status to indicate you do not want anyone to merge your PR right now, even if it passes all pre-merge checks. This is useful if you have minor post-LGTM changes to make, or if you need to coordinate the precise timing of the merge. If pre-merge checks are green and this flag is absent, a Drake administrator may merge your PR at any time.