Waveshare UGV Rover – A 6-wheel AI robot built around Raspberry Pi 4/5 and ESP32

The Waveshare UGV Rover is a 6-wheel robot platform based on Raspberry Pi 4 or 5 as well as an ESP32 module and built for remote exploration, object recognition, and autonomous navigation. Since the source code for the platform will be open-sourced it can also be used for educational purposes, programming, robotics, AI experimentation, and many other applications.

This Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) rover features a 2mm thick aluminum body, six 80mm shock-absorbing tires, and a four-wheel drive system controlled by an ESP32 sub-controller. The sub-controller also handles sensors, LiDAR, cameras, and more. The brain or the main controller of the rover is a Raspberry Pi SBC – either a Pi 4B or Pi 5 – which notably handles computer vision and machine learning operations.

Since the mounting holes are designed to fit a Raspberry Pi, it is safe to assume that it will fit other SBCs with the same form factor like the Radxa ROCK 3B, Geniatech XPI-iMX8MM,  Pine H64 Model B, and many other SBCs.

Waveshare Unmanned Ground Vehicle Rover(UGV) for Raspberry Pi 4 and Pi 5

Waveshare UGV Rover Specification

  • Main controller – Raspberry Pi 4B or Raspberry Pi 5 for computer vision and machine learning tasks.
  • ESP32 powered sub-controller
    • High-frequency PID controller
    • Closed-loop linear speed controller for wheels
    • Pan and tilt servo control with feedback
    • LED light on/off
    • OLED screen
    • IMU data reading
    • Battery voltage monitoring
  • Audio Driver Board
    • Dual-track speaker
    • Onboard microphone
    • Built-in 3.5mm audio jack
    • Text-To-Speech
    • Audio playback
  • Connectivity
    • Gigabit Ethernet, WiFI 5, and Bluetooth 5 on Raspberry Pi 4/5 SBC
    • 2.4 GHz WiFi and Bluetooth  on ESP32 including ESP-NOW support
    • Optional 4G LTE/5G module
  • Expansion GPIO – 40-pin GPIO extended header
  • Rover Construction
    • Made with 2mm thick aluminum plates
    • High-torque encoder motor with 80mm shock-absorbing tire
    • 6-wheel with 4-wheel drive setup for enhanced maneuverability
    • High-brightness LED light for clear images in low-light conditions
    • Additional Pan-Tilt module features 360° horizontal and 120° vertical rotation with a 5MP camera and vertical stabilization for better camera control
    • Additional mounting plate for installing D500 / STL27L LiDAR, battery, or other peripherals
    • Optional 21mm wide rail and 30 KG/CM high precision & high-torque bus servo for tactical extension
  • Rover Speed – 0.5m/s max
  • Misc
    • Comes with a wireless gamepad
    • Automatically creates hotspot when there is no network available
  • Power Options
    • 3x 18650-based UPS module with support for charging and discharging at the same time
    • Optional battery set with XH2.54 interface
  • Dimensions – 230.42mm x 252.40mm x 254.53mm

Another cool feature of this rover is that it features ESP-NOW protocol that enables inter-rover communication with minimum latency while allowing 4G/5G module expansion for communication.

UGV Rover Motor and Audio Driver Control Boards
UGV Rover Motor and Audio Driver Control Boards

The ESP32 powred sub-controller supports different communication protocols, including serial port, HTTP request, and ESP-NOW through which provides some basic control of the robot with a web interface, it also performs basic tasks for the robot, such as high-frequency PID controller, high-frequency inverse kinematics calculations for robotic arm linkages, position interpolation calculation, Pan-Tilt angle control, and OLED screen control, etc. Additionally, it is responsible for reading data from IMU (9-axis attitude sensor) and INA219 (battery voltage sensor), and can automatically achieve the camera vertical stabilization function.

UGV Rover Web Applications
UGV Rover Web Application

You can control the robot through a web application, compatible with standard browsers, which provides for high-frame-rate video transmission and AI-enhanced computer vision functionalities.

UGV Rover details 31
OpenCV based recognition, tracking, and targeting

Additional AI features include object recognition, gesture recognition, face detection, motion detection, vision line tracking, color recognition, auto-targeting, and multi-threaded computer vision.

The company mentions that they will provide tutorials for Ngrok, but won’t provide any Ngrok accounts or servers. They also explain that the eRover is compatible with Debian Bookworm and ROS2-HUMBLE-LTS, as well as JupyterLab. We should eventually expect a guide and tutorials for all the software features, but at the time of writing that is not available on their Wiki page.

Waveshare gives us custom options for the UGV rover. If you already own a Raspberry Pi, you can order the rover without the Pi and there is also an option to include the Pan-Tilt Module in your order. The company also provides options for US, EU, and UK power plugs. This type of Raspberry Pi 4/5-based robot can be a lot of fun and we recently reviewed the SunFounder PiCar-X 2.0 which looks to have better documentation than the Waveshare model at the time of writing.

The UGV Rover PT PI5 AI Kit or UGV Rover PT PI4B AI Kit, including the Pan-Tilt Module, can be found on Amazon for $292.99 (including shipping). The robot is not available on the company’s Aliexpress store just yet, but a similar model with four wheels called the RaspRover can be purchased for $212 and up. Waveshare also offers a UGV Rover base kit (without Pi or Pan-Tilt Module) for $244.99 on their store.

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Khadas VIM4 SBC
Khadas VIM4 SBC