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Thread: Need help choosing the brain for my robot

  1. Question Need help choosing the brain for my robot

    Hi guys,

    i'm working in a project to build a robot (still in the planning phase) and i would need help choosing a good "brain" for my future robot.

    This is the hardware i plan to use:

    - 25x servos
    - 1x 720p HD webcam (the one they're selling in here)
    - A bunch of sensors :P (GPS, gyro, accelerometer, temperature, humidity, microphone, sonar, speaker, etc, etc... i'll put a lot of useless sensors lol)
    - lcd screen or similar (around the size of a psp screen)
    - Wifi

    Software features that i want to put in it:

    - Voice recognition
    - Facial recognition
    - Autonomous navigation
    - Image processing (otherwise can't recognize my face right? ^^)
    (also motion detection but that is included on the above i think)
    - Some voice speaking
    - and some other stuff


    The thing is, i want my robot to have the power he needs to do the things above without having to be connected to an external computer.
    On the other hand carrying a laptop on him is not possible. :/

    I saw the current microcontrollers available and found a few that can handle all those servos and sensors (like Axon II) but don't think they have enough power to run the applications. On the other hand i saw some mini computer boards (like those from ITX) but well, don't know which to choose and the most important, how to connect the servos and sensors.


    So my questions are:

    - To be able to have all the above features, should have get a small computer board?

    - If so, is the RB-110 powerful enough or i need to get something like +1Ghz, +2Gb ram?

    - Using that type of brain how can i connect the servos and sensors?



    TYVM

  2. Re: Need help choosing the brain for my robot

    Have you looked at beagleboard.org? They just released a new board that looks promising. Check out the videos on the beaglebone. It is a very affordable board and would make one heck of a brain for your bot.

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    Re: Need help choosing the brain for my robot

    If you really plan on using that many sensors, then it is pretty likely (read: almost certain) that you will need more than one processing board. One will be a relatively low power microcontroller board for reading the low level sensors, and the other will be a netbook/laptop/mini-ITX/RoBoard/BeagleBoard for vision processing/servo position calculations/sound generation. Depending on what type of servo you go with, you may need another microcontroller board for controlling those alone. Depending on what type of LCD screen you go with, you may need another board for that (the RoBoard VGA card and I think one or more versions of the beagle board have headers for interfacing directly with some LCD screens).

    The DARwIn-OP uses a FitPC2i-sbc with an Intel Atom processor and a USB webcam. It connects to the dynamixel bus and an ARM Cortex-M3 sub-board using an FTDI USBtoUART chip. The CM-730 sub-board behaves as a device on the dynamixel bus just like the servos and it can control power to the servos. It also controls several LEDs and is used to read the accelerometer and gyroscope sensor values (also has a pair of microphones that give very simple ADC values for detecting sounds like finger snaps or hand claps) (also has the speaker amplifier chips for the FitPC2's output).
    Please pardon the pedantry... and the profanity... and the convoluted speech pattern...
    "You have failed me, Brain!"

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  5. #4

    Re: Need help choosing the brain for my robot

    I think if you intend to have all those features your best bet is a small ubuntu box running ROS. That way you can leverage other people's software for things like facial recognition, sensors, etc. Probably you will need a small computer and an io board like an axon or a propeller. The computer could be a FitPC or a GumStick running Ubuntu.

    This seems like a very ambitious project. Are you sure you are ready to do all these things? I can't think of a research robot that combines all the functionality you list.

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    Re: Need help choosing the brain for my robot

    Quote Originally Posted by georgeecollins View Post
    I think if you intend to have all those features your best bet is a small ubuntu box running ROS. That way you can leverage other people's software for things like facial recognition, sensors, etc. Probably you will need a small computer and an io board like an axon or a propeller.
    Just gonna pipe in that if you are going the ROS route, you should really look at the ArbotiX -- we actually have a full software suite for building robots using ROS and ArbotiX (http://vanadium-ros-pkg.googlecode.com or http://ros.org/wiki/vanadium-ros-pkg)

    -Fergs

  7. Re: Need help choosing the brain for my robot

    My goal is somewhat ambitious as well, although I will have sensors that I REALLY need. I've settled on RoBoard. Simply because you can add a wifi card and LOGIN to your robot and go to town with programming. The fact that you can install Ubuntu or Windows for it on a microSD card is also neat. I am doing that right now. Oh yeeaah.

    I think one consideration here is power. Too many sensors and I am afraid the bot will starve pretty quickly, although I may end up getting a fuell cell, like a boss.

  8. #7

    Re: Need help choosing the brain for my robot

    I wasn't familiar with the RoBoard until now, but that looks like it should work. It looks pretty cool actually. Do you think you will use software like ROS, or are you thinking about something else?

  9. Re: Need help choosing the brain for my robot

    Quote Originally Posted by georgeecollins View Post
    I wasn't familiar with the RoBoard until now, but that looks like it should work. It looks pretty cool actually. Do you think you will use software like ROS, or are you thinking about something else?
    I may at least look at it. For now I am planning on doing most things myself, if I can. For learning, if anything. One library that has been used with this board is OpenCV. I mean, if you can install the OS of your choice and program it in C++, the sky is the limit. Or sensor output can be provided as a service and that can be used to code AI in anything else, like Python or Java. Right?

  10. #9

    Re: Need help choosing the brain for my robot

    Well, I'm late to the question, but my stab will be with
    a droid bluetoothed to a bluetooth bee on an arbotix.

    The droid already has quite a few sensors and camera/video and a full linux os on a battery.
    But you'll need to figure out it's weird java os (like i gotta - sigh).
    The arbotix board will get you to awesome servos and maybe a balancing wheel pid loop?
    Just imagine a little balancing droid phone with a face taking video that has it's own wifi net that sets up a browser
    session on your pc
    It'd be tough to keep servos' moves balanced tho - probably impossible.

    That what I'm aimin' for tho.

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    Re: Need help choosing the brain for my robot

    Quote Originally Posted by stephen.hazel View Post
    Well, I'm late to the question, but my stab will be with
    a droid bluetoothed to a bluetooth bee on an arbotix.

    The droid already has quite a few sensors and camera/video and a full linux os on a battery.
    But you'll need to figure out it's weird java os (like i gotta - sigh).
    The arbotix board will get you to awesome servos and maybe a balancing wheel pid loop?
    Just imagine a little balancing droid phone with a face taking video that has it's own wifi net that sets up a browser
    session on your pc
    It'd be tough to keep servos' moves balanced tho - probably impossible.

    That what I'm aimin' for tho.
    I've seen people implement balancing bots in an AVR before -- they do have quite a bit of power if you keep the code very clean and tight and don't try to do too many other things.

    -Fergs

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