Archive

Posts Tagged ‘robotics’

EduMIP Self-Balancing Robot Kit Based on BeagleBone Blue is Now Available for $50

July 14th, 2017 1 comment

BeagleBone Blue is a board designed for robotics projects, and one of those projects is EduMIP self-balancing robot that was first designed around BeagleBone Black and a robotics cape, but so far was not available for sale. Renaissance Robotics is now selling the kit, without board, for $50.

EduMIP with Beaglebone Blue (left) and BBB and Robotics Cape (right) – Click to Enlarge

The kit has been designed by UC San Diego Coordinated Robotics Lab in order to teach robotics to students, and it works with BeagleBone Blue, or BeagleBone Black with the Robotics Cape and an optional WiFi dongle.

Some of the subjects that can be learned with eduMIP include:
  • Dynamic modeling and feedback control (classical, state-space, adaptive, …) of unstable systems.
  • Robot motion planning and collision avoidance.
  • DC motor control via (built-in) H-bridges and encoder counters.
  • Attitude estimation via (built-in) IMU and barometer.
  • Communication via (built-in) WiFi (802.11b/g/n) and Bluetooth (4.1/BLE).
  • Charging, balancing, protection, and monitoring of 2-cell LiPo (included).
  • Multithreaded event-driven C programming in Debian Linux.
  • Multithreaded Graphical System Design for embedded applications.


eduMIP is compatible with Python, ROS, MATLAB & Simulink, and LabVIEW.
The CAD designs for the hardware are released under a Creative Commons CC-by-v4 License, while source code is released under a 3-Clause BSD License. There’s no link to those resources on Renaissance Robotics website, but you should find everything you need in that Hackster.io page.

$29 Bluey nRF52832 BLE & NFC Development Board Comes with Temperature, Humidity, Light, and Motion Sensors

July 5th, 2017 No comments

Electronut Labs, a startup based in Bangalore, India, has designed Bluey board powered by Nordic Semi nRF52832 Bluetooth LE SoC, and equipped with 3 sensor chips reporting temperature, humidity, light intensity, and acceleration data.

Bluey board specifications:

  • SoC – Nordic Semi nRF52832 ANT + BLE ARM Cortex-M4 @ 64 MHz processor with 512kB flash, 64kB RAM
  • Storage – Micro SD slot
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.2/5 LE and other proprietary 2.4 GHz wireless standards via PCB Antenna, NFC via PCB antenna
  • Sensors
    • TI HDC1010 Temperature/Humidity sensor
    • APDS-9300-020 ambient light sensor
    • ST Micro LSM6DS3 accelerometer
  • Expansion Header – 18-pin header with GPIO, 5V, 3.3V, and GND
  • Debugging – CP2104 USB interface; 6-pin SWD header
  • Misc – CREE RGB LED; 2 push buttons; coin cell holder; on/off witch; external / battery power jumper
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port, up to 6V battery voltage via 4-pin header

The board is partially open source hardware with KiCad & PDF schematics (v1.1 PCB) released in Github, but not the Gerber files nor the BoM released on Github, where you’ll find some documentation, and various samples relying on Nordic nRF5 SDK to play with Bluetooth LE and sensors, as well as sample code for a 2 wheeldrive ultrasonic robot.

The board is sold on Tindie for $29, but if you live in India, you can purchase it locally instead for 1,875 Rupiah. Visit the product page for a few more details. They do not sell the full robot, as it is based on off-the-shelf parts including HCSR-04 ultrasonic sensor, DRV8835 motor driver, and chassis made by Femtech RC Model Co that is similar to the Mini Robot Rover sold on Adafruit.

Husarion CORE2 STM32 Board for Robotics Projects Works with ESP32, Raspberry Pi 3, or ASUS Tinkerboard

June 30th, 2017 No comments

Husarion CORE2 is a board designed to make robotics projects simpler and faster to complete with pre-configured software and online management. Projects can start using LEGOs, before moving to 3D printed or laser-cut version of the mechanical parts without having to spend too much time on the electronics and software part of the project.

CORE2 and CORE2-ROS Boards – Click to Enlarge

Two versions of the board are available: CORE2 combining STM32 MCU with ESP32 WiFI & Bluetooth module, and CORE2-ROS with STM32 instead coupled to a Raspberry Pi 3 or ASUS Tinkerboard running ROS (Robot Operating System). Both solutions share most of the same specifications:

  • MCU -STMicro STM32F4 ARM CORTEX-M4 MCU @ 168 MHz with 192 kB RAM, 1 MB Flash
  • External Storage – 1x micro SD slot
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port with 1A charging capability; 1x micro USB port for debugging and programming via FTDI chip
  • Expansion Headers
    • hRPi expansion header for
      • CORE2-ROS –  a single board computer Raspberry Pi 3 or ASUS Tinker Board
      • CORE2 – an ESP32 based Wi-Fi module
    • 2x motor headers (hMot) with
      • 4x DC motor outputs with built-in H-bridges
      • 4x quadrature encoder inputs 1 A cont./ 2 A max. current per output (2 A/4 A current when paralleled)
    • 6x servo ports with selectable supply voltage (5 / 6 / 7.4 / 8.6 V) 3 A cont./4.5 A max. current for all servos together
    • 6x 6-pin hSens sensor ports with GPIOs, ADC/ext. interrupt, I2C/UART, 5 V out
    • 1x hExt extension port with 12x GPIO, 7x ADC, SPI, I2C, UART, 2 x external interrupts
    • 1x CAN interface with onboard transceiver
  • Debugging – DBG SWD (Serial Wire Debug) STM32F4 debug port; micro USB port for serial console
  • Misc – 5x LEDs, 2x buttons
  • Power Supply – 6 to 16V DC with built-in overcurrent, overvoltage, and reverse polarity protection
  • Dimensions – 94 x 85 mm

On the software side, Husarion provide a set of open source libraries for robots as part of their hFramework, using DMA channels and interrupts internally to handle communication interfaces. The company has also prepared tutorials dealing with ROS introduction, creating nodes, simple kinematics for mobile robot, visual object recognition, running ROS on multiple machines, and SLAM navigation. CORE2 board can also be programming using the Arduino IDE, and finally Husarion Cloud allows you to securely create a web user interface to control the robot, and even program the robot firmware from a web browser.

That means you can program your robot using either the Web IDE, or offline with an SDK plus Visual Studio Code and the Husarion extension. The development work flow is summarized above.

CORE2 boards can be used for a variety of projects such as robotic arms, telepresense robots, 3D printers, education robots, drones, exoskeletons, and so on. If you want to learn about robots, but don’t have LEGO Mindstorms and don’t feel comfortable making your own mechanical parts yet, ROSbot might be a good way to start with CORE2-ROS board, LiDAR, a camera, four DC motors with encoders, an orientation sensor (MPU9250), four distance sensors, a Li-Ion battery (3 x 18650 batteries) and a charger, as well as aluminum mechanics. It also happens to be the platform they use for their tutorials.

ROSbot

You’ll find all those items, and some extra add-on boards, on the CrowdSupply campaign, starting at $89 for CORE2 board with ESP32 module, $99 for CORE2-ROS board without SBC, and going up to $1,290 for the complete ROSbot with ASUS Tinker Board. Shipping is free to the US, and $8 to $20 depending on the selected rewards, with delivery scheduled for September 2017, except for ROSbot that’s planned for mid-October 2017.

$399 Intel Euclid Robotics Devkit Runs Ubuntu & ROS on Intel Atom x7-Z8700 Processor

May 22nd, 2017 No comments

We’ve seen many mini PC based on Intel Atom x5/x7 “Cherry Trail” processor in the last year, but Intel has also integrated their low power processor into hardware aimed at robotics, such as Intel RealSense development kit based on Atom x5 UP Board and RealSense R200 depth camera. The company has now launched its one-in-all Intel Euclid development kit combining Atom X7-Z8700 processor with a RealSense camera in a single enclosure.

Click to Enlarge

Intel Euclid specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x7-Z8700 Cherry Trail quad core processor @ up to 2.4GHz with Intel HD Graphics Gen 8
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR3-1600
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC 5.0 flash, Micro SD slot up to 128GB
  • Video Output – micro HDMI port up to 4K @ 30 Hz
  • Audio – 2x I2S interfaces, 1W mono speaker, 3x DMIC with noise cancellation
  • Camera – Intel RealSense ZR300 camera
    • RGB camera – 2MP up to [email protected], 16:9 aspect ratio, rolling shutter, fixed focus, 75° x 41.5° x 68° FOV
    • Stereo imagers – 2x [email protected], global shutter, fixed focus, 70° x 46° x 59° FOV
    • Depth output – up to 628 × 468 @ 60fps, 16-bit format; Minimal depth distance: 0.6 M (628 x 468) or 0.5 M (480 x 360); active IR stereo technology
    • Tracking module
      • Fisheye camera resolution: VGA @ 60fps,  FOV: 166° × 100° × 133° FOV,
      • IMU: 3-axis accelerometer & 3-axis gryroscope with 50 μsec time stamp accuracy
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 a/b/g/n 1×1 WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS (GNS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo, QZSS, WAAS, EGNOS)
  • Sensors – Integrated Sensor Hub (ISH), accelerometer, digital compass, gyroscope, ambient light, proximity, thermal, environmental (barometer, altimeter, humidity, temperature)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x micro USB OTG port with power, 1x micro USB 2.0 port for UART / serial console
  • Misc – ¼” standard tripod mounting hole; power and charging LEDs;
  • Battery – 2000 mAh @ 3.8V
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A via battery terminals
  • Temperature Range — up to 35°C (still air)

The kit runs Ubuntu 16.04 with Robotic Operating System (ROS) Kinetic Kame, and custom software layer to allow developers to control the device using a web interface. It also supports remote desktop application, and includes evaluation versions of Intel SLAM and Person Tracking Middleware.

Euclid Camera Output: Color Stream, Depth Stream, and Fisheye Stream – Click to Enlarge

Intel RealSense SLAM Library middleware enables applications in robots and drones to understand their location and surroundings more accurately than GPS allows in GPS denied environments and inside yet unmapped spaces. You’ll find documentation about SLAM, person tracking middleware, the camera API,  RealSense SDK framework, Euclid user guide and more in Intel Euclid product page. You’ll be able to get support in RealSense forums and Euclid developer kit community, where you’ll find tutorials and example projects.

Intel Euclid Development Kit can be pre-order for $399.00 on the product page with shipping starting on May 31, 2017.

Via LinuxGizmos

$80 BeagleBone Blue Board Targets Robots & Drones, Robotics Education

March 14th, 2017 3 comments

Last year, we reported that BeagleBoard.org was working with the University of California San Diego on BeagleBone Blue board for robotics educational kits such as EduMiP self-balancing robot, and EduRover four wheel robot. The board has finally launched, so we know the full details, and it can be purchased for about $80 on Mouser, Element14 or Arrow websites.

Click to Enlarge

BeagleBone Blue specifications:

  • SiP (System-in-Package) – Octavo Systems OSD3358 with TI Sitara AM3358 ARM Cortex-A8 processor @ up to 1 GHz,  2×32-bit 200-MHz programmable real-time units (PRUs), PowerVR SGX530 GPU, PMIC, and 512MB DDR3
  • Storage – 4GB eMMC flash, micro SD slot
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1 LE (TI Wilink 8) with two antennas
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 client and host port
  • Sensors – 9 axis IMU, barometer
  • Expansion
    • Motor control – 8x 6V servo out, 4x DC motor out, 4x quadrature encoder in
    • Other interfaces – GPIOs, 5x UARTs, 2x SPI, 1x I2C, 4x ADC, CAN bus
  • Misc – Power, reset and 2x user buttons; power, battery level & charger LEDs; 6x user LEDs; boot select switch
  • Power Supply – 9-18V DC input via power barrel; 5V via micro USB port; 2-cell LiPo support with balancing,
  • Dimensions & Weight – TBD

The board ships pre-loaded with Debian, but it also supports the Robot Operating System (ROS) & Ardupilot, as well as graphical programming via Cloud9 IDE on Node.js. You’ll find more details, such as documentation, hardware design files, and examples projects on BeagleBone Blue product page, and github.

The board is formally launched at Embedded World 2017, and Jason Kridner, Open Platforms Technologist/Evangelist at Texas Instruments, and co-founder and board member at BeagleBoard.org Foundation, uploaded a video starting with a demo of various robotics and UAV projects, before giving a presentation & demo of the board at the 2:10 mark using Cloud 9 IDE.


If you attend Embedded World 2017, you should be able to check out of the board and demos at Hall 3A Booth 219a.

Open Surgery Initiative Aims to Build DIY Surgical Robots

February 7th, 2017 No comments

Medical equipments can be really expensive because of the R&D involved and resulting patents, low manufacturing volume, government regulations, and so on. Developed countries can normally afford those higher costs, but for many it may just be prohibitively expensive. The Open Surgery initiative aims to mitigate the costs by “investigating whether building DIY surgical robots, outside the scope of healthcare regulations, could plausibly provide an accessible alternative to the costly professional healthcare services worldwide”.

DIY Surgical Robot – Click to Enlarge

The project is composed of member from the medical, software, hardware, and 3D printing communities, is not intended for (commercial) application, and currently serves only academic purposes.

Commercial surgical robots can cost up to $2,000,000, but brings benefits like smaller incisions, reduced risks of complications and readmissions, and shorter hospital stays thanks to a faster recovery process. There have already been several attempts within the robotics community to come up with cheaper and more portable surgical robots, such as RAVEN II Surgical robot initially developed with funding from the US military to create a portable telesurgery device for battlefield operations, and valued at $200,000. The software used to control RAVEN II has been made open source, so other people can improve on it.

The system is currently only used by researchers in universities to experiment with robotic surgery, but it can’t be used on humans, as it lacks the required safety and quality control systems. This is a step in the right direction, but the price makes it still out of reach for most medical hacker communities, so Frank Kolkman, who setup the Open Surgery initiative, has been trying to build a DIY surgical robot for around $5000 by using as many off-the-shelf parts and prototyping techniques such as laser cutting and 3D printing for several months with the help of the community.

Three major challenges to designing a surgical robot (theoretically) capable of performing laparoscopic surgery have been identified:

  1. The number and size of tools: during a single operation a surgeon would switch between various types of tools, so a robot would either have to have many of them or they should be able to be interchangeable. The instruments are also extremely small, and difficult to make
  2. Anything that comes into contact with the human body has to be sterile to reduce the risk of infection, and most existing tools are made of stainless steel so that they can be sterilized by placing them in an autoclave, that may not be easily accessible to many people.
  3. The type of motion a surgical robot should be able to make, whereby a fixed point of rotation in space is created where the tool enters the body through an entry port – or ‘trocar’. The trocar needs to be stationary so as to avoid tissue damage.

He solved the first  issue by finding laporoscopic instruments on Alibaba, as well as camera, CO2 insufflation pumps, and others items. For the second hurdle, he realized a domestic oven turned to 160 degrees centigrade for 4 hours could be an alternative to an autoclave. The mechanical design was the most complicated, as it required many iterations, and he ended with some 3D printed parts, and DC servo motors. Software was written using Processing open source scripting language. You can see the results in the short video below.

While attempting surgery with the design would not be recommended just yet, a $5,000 DIY surgical robot appears to feasible. Maybe it could be evaluated by one or more trained surgeons first, and then tested on animals that needs surgery, before eventually & potentially being used on human, who would not get the treatment otherwise.

While there’s “Open” in “Open Surgery” and the initial intent was to make the project open source, it turned out it is almost impossible to design surgical robots without infringing on patents. That’s no problem as long as you make parts for private use, however Frank explains that sharing files could cause problems, and the legality of doing so requires some more research.

Samsung Introduces IoT-Ready POWERbot VR7000 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Compatible with Amazon Echo

December 29th, 2016 1 comment

2017 is the year where the future starts. You’ll be wandering in your automated home or office where lights and heating system are fully handled by a gateway taking into account sensors values, and equipped with a CO2 level controlled ventilation systems, your eyes constantly looking at your phone, wearing neckband speakers likely connected to your Amazon Echo to let you know when it’s time to get up, eat, go to work, brush your teeth, and get back to bed again. All your life will be taken care of on your behalf by the Internet of Things, relieving you of the stress of taking routine daily decisions… Luckily, you’ll still be have an illusion of control thanks to your “IoT-ready” Samsung POWERbot VR7000 vacuum cleaner that can be controlled with your voice via that Echo thing, giving your life a purpose.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Samsung Electronics’ latest POWERbot vacuum cleaner will be unveiled at CES 2017 in January with a slimmer design (97mm), and more powerful cleaning capabilities. POWERbot VR7000 vacuum cleaner will feature “Visionary Mapping Plus” and “FullView Sensor 2.0” in order to detect obstacles and generate a map of the room, its Intelligent Power Control feature will also automatically adjusts the level of suction power to surface type (hardwood, carpet, etc…). I think it’s also the first “IoT-ready” vacuum cleaner I’ve seen, and you can control it using a mobile app, or through voice commands thanks to its compatibility with Amazon Echo. TizenExperts also reports that the device will run Tizen, and can also be integrated with the SmartThings hub. I guess you could also have some sort of dust sensor(s) to decide when to start the vacuum cleaner, beside scheduling cleaning times.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

POWERbot VR7000 will be showcased on Samsung Electronics’ CES booth #15006, between January 5th and January 8th 2017.

JeVois-A33 is a Small Quad Core Linux Camera Designed for Computer Vision Applications (Crowdfunding)

December 27th, 2016 8 comments

JeVois Neuromorphic Embedded Vision Toolkit – developed at iLab at the University of Southern California – is an open source software framework to capture and process images through a machine vision algorithm, primarily designed to run on embedded camera hardware, but also supporting Linux board such as the Raspberry Pi. A compact Allwinner A33 has now been design to run the software and use on robotics and other projects requiring a lightweight and/or battery powered camera with computer vision capabilities.

allwinner-a33-computer-vision-cameraJeVois-A33 camera:

  • SoC – Allwinner A33  quad core ARM Cortex A7 processor @ 1.35GHz with  VFPv4 and NEON, and a dual core Mali-400 GPU supporting OpenGL-ES 2.0.
  • System Memory – 256MB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Storage – micro SD slot for firmware and data
  • 1.3MP camera capable of video capture at
    • SXGA (1280 x 1024) up to 15 fps (frames/second)
    • VGA (640 x 480) up to 30 fps
    • CIF (352 x 288) up to 60 fps
    • QVGA (320 x 240) up to 60 fps
    • QCIF (176 x 144)  up to 120 fps
    • QQVGA (160 x 120) up to 60 fps
    • QQCIF (88 x 72) up to 120 fps
  • USB – 1x mini USB port for power and act as a UVC webcam
  • Serial – 5V or 3.3V (selected through VCC-IO pin) micro serial port connector to communicate with Arduino or other MCU boards.
  • Power – 5V (3.5 Watts) via USB port requires USB 3.0 port or Y-cable to two USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc
    • Integrated cooling fan
    • 1x two-color LED: Green: power is good. Orange: power is good and camera is streaming video frames.
  • Dimensions –  28 cc or 1.7 cubic inches (plastic case included with 4 holes for secure mounting)

jevois-camera-hardwareThe camera runs Linux with the drivers for the camera, JeVois C++17 video capture, processing & streaming framework, OpenCV 3.1, and toolchains. You can either connect it to a host computer’s USB port to check out the camera output (actual image + processed image), or to an MCU board such as Arduino via the serial interface to use machine vision to control robots, drones, or others. Currently three modes of operation are available:

  • Demo/development mode – the camera outputs a demo display over USB that shows the results of its analysis, potentially along with simple data over serial port.
  • Text-only mode – the camera provides no USB output, but only text strings, for example, commands for a pan/tilt controller.
  • Pre-processing mode – The smart camera outputs video that is intended for machine consumption, and potentially processed by a more powerful system.

The smart camera can detect motion, track faces and eyes, detect & decode ArUco makers & QR codes, detect & follow lines for autonomous cars, and more. Since the framework is open source, you’ll also be able to add your own algorithms and modify the firmware. Some documentation has already been posted on the project’s website. The best is to watch the demo video below to see the capacities of the camera and software.

The project launched in Kickstarter a few days ago with the goal of raising $50,000 for the project. A $45 “early backer” pledge should get you a JeVois camera with a micro serial connector with 15cm pigtail leads, while a $55 pledge will add an 8GB micro SD card pre-load with JeVois software, and a 24/28 AWG mini USB Y cable. Shipping is free to the US, but adds $10 to Canada, and $15 to the rest of the work. Delivery is planned for February and March 2017.