Flexible, fpga-based electronics for modular robots

David Brandt, Jørgen Christian Larsen, David Johan Christensen, Ricardo Franco Mendoza Garcia, Danish Shaikh, Ulrik Pagh Schultz, Kasper Støy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In this paper we introduce electronics for the ATRON self-reconfigurable robot based on field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). The immediate advantage of using FPGAs is that some of the module’s electronics can be moved into the FPGA, thereby the number of components can be reduced. In the case of the ATRON the number of components is reduced by 20%. Another advantage is that handling of low-level hardware, which is interrupt heavy, can be moved out of the main processor (also implemented on the FPGA) as we will exemplify with a simple FPGA-based communication system. Finally, we can reprogram the FPGA and therefore integrate task-specific electronics without physically changing the electronics or we can reconfigure the electronics for specific tasks. The disadvantages of an FPGA-based design include the cost of FPGAs, the extra layer of complexity in programming, and a limited increase in power consumption compared to micro-controllers. However, overall FPGAs make the electronics of modular robots more flexible and therefore may make them more suitable for real applications. AB - In this paper we introduce electronics for the ATRON self-reconfigurable robot based on field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). The immediate advantage of using FPGAs is that some of the module’s electronics can be moved into the FPGA, thereby the number of components can be reduced. In the case of the ATRON the number of components is reduced by 20%. Another advantage is that handling of low-level hardware, which is interrupt heavy, can be moved out of the main processor (also implemented on the FPGA) as we will exemplify with a simple FPGA-based communication system. Finally, we can reprogram the FPGA and therefore integrate task-specific electronics without physically changing the electronics or we can reconfigure the electronics for specific tasks. The disadvantages of an FPGA-based design include the cost of FPGAs, the extra layer of complexity in programming, and a limited increase in power consumption compared to micro-controllers. However, overall FPGAs make the electronics of modular robots more flexible and therefore may make them more suitable for real applications.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the IROS Workshop on Self-Reconfigurable Robots, Systems and Applications
Number of pages5
Publication date2008
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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    Brandt, D., Larsen, J. C., Christensen, D. J., Garcia, R. F. M., Shaikh, D., Schultz, U. P., & Støy, K. (2008). Flexible, fpga-based electronics for modular robots. In Proceedings of the IROS Workshop on Self-Reconfigurable Robots, Systems and Applications