Inc., a developer of motor controllers for the mobile robotics industry,
announced the publication of a WiFi robot design platform featuring the Roboteq
AX3500 dc motor controller and an Intel Atom processor-based Mini-ITX motherboard.
The robot is a battery-operated, 4
wheel-drive unit built on a 1.5 x 2 feet (46 x 61 cm) aluminum frame with WiFi
connectivity and a video camera. The robot can feed live video and can be
remotely operated via the Internet. The robot is a technology platform that
users interested in robotics can easily replicate to add functionality and
Use of the Intel Atom motherboard in the
design allows robotics software written for the PC to run on the robot. Microsoft,
for example, has released free development tools that can be downloaded to
develop this type of robotics application. The Microsoft Robotics Developer
Studio 2008 R3 (Microsoft RDS) is a Windows-based environment for academic,
hobbyist and commercial developers to easily create robotics applications
across a wide variety of hardware. RDS 2008 R3 can be downloaded at no charge
Detailed assembly instructions for
the robot, plus mechanical CAD drawings, wiring diagrams and software can be
downloaded free of charge from Roboteq's web site. No
license or royalties are needed for their use, and a 3D animation illustrates
the step-by-step construction of the chassis.
Click here for larger image.
The AX3500 motor controller uses two
channel outputs to control the motors that power and steer the robot by varying
the speed and direction of the motors at each side of the chassis. The
controller also has outputs for up to eight RC servos, allowing the control of
simple robotic arms and other accessories. The motor controller connects to the
Intel Atom motherboard via its RS232 port.
The Intel D510M motherboard was
selected because of its 100 percent passive cooling, low power consumption,
balanced features set, excellent performance and low cost. Measuring 17 x 17cm,
the Mini-ITX form factor is ideally suited to mobile robotic designs. The
motherboard runs Windows 7 booting from a SATA hard drive or solid state drive
but alternate operating systems such as Linux can also be used. The
PC-compatible platform enables significant computational functionality and
flexible software development options.
The motherboard consumes only 800mA
from the robot's 24V batteries, ensuring several hours of continuous operation
depending on motor usage. A power converter ensures proper operation whether
the batteries are fully charged or partially depleted.
Another important element of the design is
the power supply. An adapter plugs into the ATX power slot in the motherboard,
so users can feed from 6-30V dc to regulate a clean supply for the motherboard,
disk drive and the RC output for driving the servos. The motherboard, adapter
and controller combination provide an integrated solution from an electronics
point of view.
Because the design platform offers ample compute
power, the ability to control two motors and eight RC servos, plus integrate vision, it provides
a portable and flexible system that can be adapted for a wide range of