Tag Archives: RobotChallenge

Challenge: Hacking the Atmel-based Arduino Robot

RobotChallenge – in conjunction with Arduino and RS Components – has kicked off a new open source competition.

Dubbed “Hack the Arduino Robot,” the contest challenges participants to answer the following questions:

  • What would you do with an Atmel-based Arduino Robot?
  • What makes your idea special?
  • What real life problem does your robot solve?

An international jury is slated to select the 10 best project ideas based on feasibility, creativity and innovation. The teams will receive a free 
Arduino Robot to implement their respective project ideas and showcase the modded ‘bots at RobotChallenge 2014. 
Each team will also be required to document their project online and submit a short video (3 – 5 minutes) by the 23rd of February.

Interested in applying? You have until the 26th of January to submit a short project idea (up to 120 words) that answers the questions listed above (detailed rules are available here). 

Prizes donated by RS Components will be awarded in two categories: Best Project & Documentation and Community.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the Arduino Robot – the first official Arduino on wheels – boasts two processors, one on each board. The Motor Board controls the motors, while the Control Board interacts with the sensors and decides how to operate. Both Arduino microcontroller boards are powered by Atmel’s ATmega32u4 and can be programmed using Arduino IDE.

The Robot has many of its pins mapped to on-board sensors and actuators, so programming the ‘bot is similar to the process with the Arduino Leonardo. Both processors are equipped with integrated USB communication, eliminating the need for a secondary processor. This allows the Robot to appear to a connected computer as a virtual (CDC) serial / COM port.

As expected, every element of the Robot platform – hardware, software and documentation – is freely available and open-source. Meaning, users can learn exactly how the device is put together, while exploiting its design as a starting point to create and mod various configurations.

Additional key specs? The ATmega32u4 has 32 KB (with 4 KB used for the bootloader), along with 2.5 KB of SRAM and 1 KB of EEPROM (which can be read and written with the EEPROM library). Meanwhile, the Control Board is fitted with an extra 512 Kbit EEPROM that can be accessed via I2C. There is also an external SD card reader attached to the GTFT screen accessible by the Control Board’s processor for additional storage.

 The Robot can be powered via a USB connection or with 4 AA batteries and features an on-board battery charger that requires 9V external power generated by an AC-to-DC adapter (wall-wart).

The adapter can be connected by plugging a 2.1mm center-positive plug into the Motor Board’s power jack, although the charger will not operate if powered by USB (the Control Board is powered by the power supply on the Motor Board).

As noted above, the Robot is programmable with Arduino software, while the ATmega32u4 processors on the Arduino Robot arrive pre-burned with a bootloader that allows users to upload new code without an external hardware programmer via the AVR109 protocol. Of course, users can also bypass the bootloader and program the microcontroller through the ICSP (In-Circuit Serial Programming) header.

Interested in learning more about the Atmel-powered Arduino Robot? Additional details and specs can be found here on the official Arduino Robot page here.