ROSbot 2.0 — a new, open-source autonomous robot platform
Creating a simple robot is not a big deal anymore. All you need is few Arduino boards, some motors, a chassis from aliexpress, couple power drivers, IR or Wi-Fi module for remote control and a few ultrasonic sensors to avoid obstacles.
But is such a robot something that can help you in your everyday life? If you compare it with, let’s say, a Tesla car, with dozens of advanced sensors, cameras and powerful computers it seems questionable.
Let’s face it- there’s still a huge gap between toy robots, and real autonomous robots that can actually be useful on their own. The main drivers of this gap are cost, advanced technologies, and skills needed to build such sophisticated solutions.
Now imagine the world where building autonomous vehicles is democratized where all makers who previously built Arduino based robots will be able to prototype their own autonomous solutions, using newest technologies developed by a large community of engineers around the world.
At Husarion we believe that the true innovation is possible through democratization of technology. Technology which allows to affordably prototype and build modern, autonomous, intelligent robots, drones and transportation systems, should be accessible to everyone, not only big corporations with big budgets.
This is why we introduced ROSbot 2.0 — a new hackable, autonomous robot platform with robust mechanics, powerful computers, advanced sensors like LiDAR and RGBD camera, and ton of expansion ports. It also gives you access to our technology which allows you to outsource robot computing power to your laptop or external servers, no matter where they are. It is called Husarnet and thanks to that technology, lack of computing power will not be a problem any more.
But why is ROSbot different than what we are already used to on the robotics market? Here are the main features of the platform:
ROSbot is based on the most powerful version of Husarion controllers: CORE2-ROS with ASUS Tinker Board. This robot’s brain consists of two control units responsible for two different tasks:
- Real-time unit — based on STM32F4 microcontroller with ARM Cortex M4 core is responsible for controlling motors, gathering feedback from encoders, Sharp distance sensors and anything else that requires real-time control (with accuracy of 1ms or less).
- Single Board Computer — ASUS Tinker Board with ARMv7-A core, 1.8GHz clock, 2GB RAM and 16GB Flash. This computer runs all high level robot algorithms running on Linux, with ROS, and other tools provided by Husarion.
ROSbot is aware of what is going on with him and around him thanks to the following sensors:
- RGBD camera — not a standard camera, but Orbecc Astra 3D camera. Range up to 8 meters, RGB image size up to 1280*960 px and depth image size up to 640*480 px. ROSbot can see in 3D and can recognize not only different objects but also distance to those objects.
- LiDAR — RPLIDAR A2 360° laser scanner is spinning all the time (up to 6 time per second) and measures distance to the surrounding objects. Thanks to that sensor ROSbot knows where the obstacles are and where he is in the building (he needs to create a map first). It’s a mandatory sensor if you’re serious about navigation.
- Distance sensors — auxiliary sensors to LiDAR. 4x sharp distance sensors are placed below the scanning surface of LiDAR and work as a “virtual bumper” warning ROSbot about objects on his way which are at least 5 cm high.
- IMU — MPU9250 inertial measurement unit containing 3 axis accelerometer, 3 axis gyro and a co-processor realising sensor fusion algorithm to output accurate data on 3D orientation of the ROSbot.
- Encoders — 4 x quadrature encoders give you feedback about rotation of each wheel. You can track the distance traveled by your robot, develop speed regulator, ASR (Acceleration Slip Regulation) or other traction control system.
ROSbot is made from red and white powder-coated aluminium plates and all circuit boards are hidden inside this solid chassis. ROSbot is more robust and much prettier than plexiglass alternatives available on the market. It is also much faster and can carry more payload. Just take a look at the specs:
ROSbot is a computer on wheels, and like to any computer you can connect your own stuff to your machine. You’ve got:
- 2 x USB host ports
- 1 x HDMI port
- 1 x USB serial port (connected to the real-time unit of CORE2-ROS)
- 6 x servo motor ports
- 16 x GPIO, 8 x ADC, 2xUART, SPI, I2C in 3.3V standard
- 2 x programmable buttons
ROSbot is a programmable, autonomous mobile platform. With your own extensions it can become:
- A mobile arm carrying goods from one place to another
- A logistics robot pulling the cart in the warehouse
- An agriculture robot taking care of the plantation crops
- A cleaning robot
- A pet caring robot
- A guarding robot with an ASG weapon :)
It’s all up to you!
ROSbot is powered by 3 x 18650 Li-ION rechargeable batteries with (depending on the version) 2400–5000 mAh capacity. It’s usually enough for 1.5–7h of work. Standard batteries are easy to remove or replace — just unscrew 2 screws on the bottom. If you want to charge batteries inside the ROSbot, on the rear panel you will find a charging connector. A charger, that fits to this connector is included in the ROSbot standard package.
Additional computing power
ROSbot is not just about powerful hardware. Husarion is mainly a robotic software company and we are focusing on providing you easy to use technologies to make your robots connected. One of these technologies is Husarnet.
Husarnet is a P2P, VPN network dedicated for robotics. It allows you to create a “virtual robot” that is not limited to the computing power located inside your physical robot. Thanks to Husarnet some of robot tasks, especially those consuming much computing power, can be outsourced to remote servers or your laptop. It doesn’t matter whether your robot and servers are in different locations or behind a firewall. The communication is done directly between ROSbot and your machine — Husarion cloud is used only one time to setup a VPN, P2P network.
So, let’s become a pro robot dev!
At Husarion we believe that the true progress is followed by democratization of the technology. Advanced, professional tools should be easy to use, cheap and accessible to anyone. We should all take part in creating the technologies of the future.