WiFi Robot Design Platform

DN Staff

January 3, 2011

3 Min Read
WiFi Robot Design Platform

RoboteqInc., a developer of motor controllers for the mobile robotics industry,announced the publication of a WiFi robot design platform featuring the RoboteqAX3500 dc motor controller and an Intel Atom processor-based Mini-ITX motherboard.

The robot is a battery-operated, 4wheel-drive unit built on a 1.5 x 2 feet (46 x 61 cm) aluminum frame with WiFiconnectivity and a video camera. The robot can feed live video and can beremotely operated via the Internet. The robot is a technology platform thatusers interested in robotics can easily replicate to add functionality andintelligence.

Use of the Intel Atom motherboard in thedesign allows robotics software written for the PC to run on the robot. Microsoft,for example, has released free development tools that can be downloaded todevelop this type of robotics application. The Microsoft Robotics DeveloperStudio 2008 R3 (Microsoft RDS) is a Windows-based environment for academic,hobbyist and commercial developers to easily create robotics applicationsacross a wide variety of hardware. RDS 2008 R3 can be downloaded at no chargeat www.microsoft.com/robotics.

Detailed assembly instructions forthe robot, plus mechanical CAD drawings, wiring diagrams and software can bedownloaded free of charge from Roboteq's web site. Nolicense or royalties are needed for their use, and a 3D animation illustratesthe step-by-step construction of the chassis.

Click here for larger image.

The AX3500 motor controller uses twochannel outputs to control the motors that power and steer the robot by varyingthe speed and direction of the motors at each side of the chassis. Thecontroller also has outputs for up to eight RC servos, allowing the control ofsimple robotic arms and other accessories. The motor controller connects to theIntel Atom motherboard via its RS232 port.

The Intel D510M motherboard wasselected 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. Themotherboard runs Windows 7 booting from a SATA hard drive or solid state drivebut alternate operating systems such as Linux can also be used. ThePC-compatible platform enables significant computational functionality andflexible software development options.

The motherboard consumes only 800mAfrom the robot's 24V batteries, ensuring several hours of continuous operationdepending on motor usage. A power converter ensures proper operation whetherthe batteries are fully charged or partially depleted.

Another important element of the design isthe 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, adapterand controller combination provide an integrated solution from an electronicspoint of view.

Because the design platform offers ample computepower, the ability to control two motors and eight RC servos, plus integrate vision, it providesa portable and flexible system that can be adapted for a wide range ofapplications.

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