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Monday, March 2, 2009

Standardized building blocks

As one of the industry leaders of the RETF, Intel is devising low-cost reference designs for relatively small robots. The reference designs are based on silicon for Intel's XScale microprocessor and Intel Centrino mobile technology, flash memory, and 802.11 wireless networking with built-in support for wireless sensor networks. The designs give researchers an intermediate scale between the embedded microprocessors currently used in internal robotics and the large-scale laptops used for mobile intelligence.

The robotics package also includes the open-source Linux 2.4.19 operating system, as well as a multitude of open-source drivers. Drivers include vision-system drivers for sensing infrared, drivers for ultrasonic devices that measure the distance from a robot to objects in the robot's environment, and so on. The software platform also supports Java applications, and integrates USC's Player device server for robotics systems. All elements in the open-source robotics package are wirelessly connected using 802.11 networks.

With internal robot systems standardized, researchers and developers will not have to redesign the wheel for each robot's brain. Instead, developers can spend more time on mobility, visual recognition systems, and the software for artificial intelligence (AI).

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