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.
  • component: Indicates the primary affected feature area.
  • 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 later as needed.


Every issue must have at least one owner assigned.


Every issue must have at least one team label. The teams, their leads, and their responsibilities are:

  • dynamics
    • lead: sherm1
    • responsibilities: physical accuracy, numerical methods, collision, systems framework
  • kitware
    • lead: BetsyMcPhail
    • responsibilities: build, continuous integration
  • manipulation
    • lead: hongkai-dai
    • responsibilities: optimizers, solvers, symbolic analysis, drake/manipulation/ subdirectory
  • robot locomotion group
    • lead: RussTedrake
    • responsibilities: examples/requests from MIT projects / MIT courses


Every issue must have at most one component label. The components are:

  • build system
    • Bazel, CMake, dependencies, memory checkers, linters, etc.
    • typical team: kitware
  • continuous integration
    • Jenkins, CDash, mirroring of externals, Drake website, etc.
    • typical team: kitware
  • distribution
    • Nightly binaries, monthly releases, docker, installation via apt or brew, etc.
    • typical team: kitware
  • geometry externals
    • VTK, FCL, drake_visualizer (core behavior), etc.
    • typical team: kitware
  • geometry general
    • Geometry infrastructure or topics that defy categorization into other geometry components.
    • typical team: dynamics
  • geometry illustration
    • What and how geometry gets communicated to external visualizers.
    • typical team: dynamics
  • geometry perception
    • How geometry appears in color, depth, and label images (via the RenderEngine API).
    • typical team: dynamics
  • geometry proximity
    • Contact, distance, signed distance queries and related properties.
    • typical team: dynamics
  • jupyter
    • Jupyter notebook infrastructure, Binder integration, etc.
    • Note: This label does not imply content authoring for tutorials.
    • typical team: kitware
  • mathematical program
    • Formulating and solving mathematical programs through numerical optimization, usually in drake/solvers.
    • typical team: manipulation
  • multibody plant
    • MultibodyPlant and related code and documentation usually in drake/multibody.
    • typical team: dynamics
  • pydrake
    • Python API and documentation under //bindings/pydrake (and its supporting Starlark macros), the RobotLocomotion/pybind11 fork, etc.
    • typical team: kitware
  • simulator
    • Simulator, integrators, and related code and documentation, usually in drake/systems/analysis.
    • typical team: dynamics
  • system framework
    • System, Context, and related code and documentation, usually in drake/systems/framework.
    • typical team: dynamics


The emergency priority indicates that the owning team should not work on anything else until the issue is resolved.

The other priorities are determined by the owning team. The following rules of thumb may be useful for issues:

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


An issue may have configuration label(s) such as linux, mac, python, etc. 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. Status labels are optional, but Drake developers 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.