Thanks to books and cinemas, the word “robot” brings up various levels of technological sophistication, ranging from a simple material handling device to a humanoid. The technology that is an intrinsic part of Robotics Development is ARM based Embedded Systems. The utilization of automation or automatic devices has grown exponentially and is expected to grow. Robotics Engineering is typically a multi-disciplinary effort incorporating principles from many engineering fields such as mechanical, electronic and computer science. We need complex algorithms to get a robot to function; this is made possible with a good performance microprocessor like ARM.
An ARM embedded system typically performs a dedicated function and usually operates within the scope of a larger electronic system with real time constraints. These embedded systems have strict design requirements in terms of space, power and cost. The 32-bit RISC microprocessor, from ARM has long met these requirements and is the most widely used microprocessor resulting in ARM being a dominant leader in mobile devices and embedded systems.
Mobile Robots are in rage. In the past, these robots needed to be controlled by large expensive, immovable computer systems but today, we can actually build these robots with numerous actuators and sensors that can be controlled by inexpensive, small, light and powerful embedded components that be carried on board the robot itself such as the ones developed with the 32 bit ARM microprocessor.
User-configurable robots can be classified into three different categories – consumer, industrial and toys. For e.g. One of the best robotics kits in the market, Lego Mindstorms Robot NXT version 3 has an ARM 9 microprocessor, 64 MB of RAM and 16 MB of Flash built in for storing programs with a good display, SD-slot and multiple communication protocols such as Bluetooth.
Considered to one of the simplest mobile models, driving robots are more specialized and are adapted for flat surfaces and in general are found to require a minimum of 2 motors – one for driving and another for steering. Considering that most of the world is unpaved, Walking robots are an important alternative to driving robots and are applied to general environments such as navigating rough terrain, climbing stairs or even navigating obstacles. One of highly popular hobby projects is building autonomous planes or helicopters but these are more complex and involve a higher degree of safety.
The centrepiece of all robotic designs is a small embedded controller that has a micro-processor with integrated memory, a lot of interfaces (analog inputs, digital inputs and outputs), peripherals and drivers for actuators, sensors, displays, camera and communications.
A robotic system (such as based on ARM based microprocessors) supports vast number of sensors. Depending on the application that the robot is expected to function, different sensors can be chosen such as temperature sensors for monitoring the temperature, a compass for self-localization, Orientation sensors such as Gyroscope, Accelerometer. Digital camera is one of the popular and complex sensors used in robotics.
Due to the rising robotic applications complexity and the different forms of hardware, the formidable challenges with embedded systems are the software environment that veils the complex nature of low-level communication and the sensor heterogeneity of the sensors.
ARM embedded software ecosystem is one of the largest and has many contributors that actively contribute back to the community of ARM based systems. ARM based development environments offer a kind of development environment with a goal to reduce the learning curve, reduce stages related to cycles of development and testing to develop dependable applications and systems.
There is a large ecosystem of free software applications, some of these are actively developed at premier educational institutes across the world, that talks about the breadth of support for ARM based embedded systems. From a developer standpoint, there is a large body of research survey that compares these packages for easy comparisons.
According to Washington Post article, here is a 38% increase in the sales of industrial robots as the industry increasing is taking to adopt robots especially in areas that are deemed to be too dangerous for humans. In a recent study conducted by IFR (International Federation of Robotics), robotics will play a major role in global job creation and is expected to add up to 1.5 million jobs by 2016.
Embedded System Training
With increasing number of organizations operating in embedded systems, the requirement for professionals and fresh graduates who have in-depth knowledge about embedded systems is growing considerably. Most organizations around the globe are interviewing candidates or promoting employees who have completed ARM training or ARM with Robotics from an embedded systems training institute.
There are a plethora embedded systems training institutes who offer a variety of embedded system design training in various platforms such as Embedded Systems with ARM 7 & AMR 9, embedded systems with Linux course, 8051 microcontroller training, PIC microcontroller training, AVR microcontroller training and many others.
However one should opt for only that embedded systems training institute which is reputed and established and offers both embedded system training and preparation for embedded system certification. This would not only ensure that the individual gets thorough training but also a certification tag, which would certify that the candidate has required skills and knowledge to program and create unique design for Robotic embedded systems.