Modular Robotics Interface

High mechanical retention force between two joined modules is provided by the interference fit of the eight interlocking pairs of ABS sockets and pins. 16 pairs of electrical sockets and pins provide 8 redundant channels of electrical connection for passing the ground, communications signals and power as well as dedicated processor inputs and outputs for robot orientation sensing relative.

Each of the two halves of every robotic module is equipped with one Atmel Mega 16 microprocessor. Both microprocessors are connected to the global TTL level half duplex RS232 bus, to which all other joined controller, actuator and other add on robotic modules are connected. There is another communication line of the same type inside the robot to which both processors and AX-12 servo are connected. Any of the two microprocessors can be used to control the servo motors, however both are necessary for complete and correct sensing of the module orientation relative to its neighbors.

The schematic of the intra module and inter module communications is given for both internal and external half duplex RS 232 busses, the speed of communication is programmable up to 1 Mbps.

All the necessary firmware for the embedded microprocessors will be provided to the user community through the dedicated user group website. Communication with the user PC will be implemented using a separate dedicated controller module. The controller module will not have any motion capabilities, instead it will be equipped with a more powerful microprocessor, for instance, 16/32 bit ARM Olimex LPC-H2148, that will support higher level control functions, such as higher level robot behaviors, behavior storage and exchange with the PC through either wireless, USB or Bluetooth connection.

It has developed a visual software interface that will provide with the means of initial robot design and simulation before the actual robot is built. It can also be used to identify the assemble structure of robots and for behavior design automation.

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