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Introducing... LaserBots!

Posted on Thursday, 11 October 2012 | No Comments

The Raspberry Pi and the Arduino are two very different devices each suited to different activities.  

The Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform. It can receive input from a variety of sensors and can affect surroundings by controlling lights, motors and other actuators. It is low power and also has serial communication capability. It is programmed using the Arduino programming language (based on Wiring) and the Arduino development environment (based on Processing). The programming language is very similar to C/C++.

The Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer that is small in size (85.60 mm × 53.98 mm) and was developed to aid the teaching of basic computer science in schools. It uses the Linux operating system. The Pi has a Broadcom system on a chip which includes an ARM 700 MHz processor, a VideoCore IV GPU, and 256 Mb of RAM. There is not a built in hard disk but it has an SD card slot.
Arduino (left) and Raspberry Pi (right)
Our embedded systems class requires us to design a 'gadget' using either of these devices.  A selection of ideas were put forward:

  • A wireless video streaming robot (using an Arduino for drive control, sensors and movement, and the Pi for video processing.
  • Off board lap timing and data acquisition unit for a formula student racecar.
  • Light up t-shirt using a Lilypad Arduino.
  • A remote controlled desktop missile launcher.

We then combined a few of the ideas above to propose a 'robot wars' game, with some sort of firing and detection mechanism on two remote controlled tanks.  There also is to be a 'games-master', controlling and scoring the game.  Due to the excellent sensor capabilities of the Arduino, it will be used on the robot to control the firing device and detect the targets. Due to the graphics processing capabilities of the Raspberry Pi, it will be used to stream video from the onboard cameras and display a GUI for the scoring system

This will be a challenging project, with many different subsystems having to play nicely together e.g. communications, sensing and drive control however we are confident of producing the final demonstration on time in January.

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