Famous among the DIY electronics community for their single-board microcontroller, Arduino recently launched a new wheeled robot at the 2013 Bay Area Maker Faire.
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Designed with Complubot, a four-time Robocup Junior champion in robotic soccer, the Arduino Robot, with its self-contained platform, will allow tinkerers of all stripes to explore their robotic whims with endless hours of interactive play and experimentation.
As the first official Arduino on wheels, the hockey puck-shaped robot includes two processors, one on each of its two boards: the motor board, which obviously controls the wheel motors, and a control board, which reads sensors and makes decisions on operations.
Essentially, the top and bottom surfaces of the robot are full Arduino boards that are programmable with the Aduino IDE software.
"Programming the robot is similar to the process with the Arduino Leonardo" microcontroller, explains the company's blog. "Both processors have built-in USB communication, eliminating the need for a secondary processor. This allows the Robot to appear to a connected computer as a virtual (CDC) serial / COM port."
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Every element of the platform - the hardware, software and documentation - is open-source and freely available like all other Arduino products. This allows users to modify the software and build unique hardware on top of it, making the platform perfect for novices and more seasoned roboticists to build interactive machines of their own design.
If I were to look into my crystal ball, I predict more than a few projects at the 2014 Maker Faire will include the Arduino Robot.