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Embedded Linux drives PatrolBot surveillance robot

Sep 11, 2003 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 17 views

Embedded Linux and a high-end Versalogic single board computer (SBC) form the brain behind ActivMedia's new $30K “PatrolBot,” which ActivMedia calls “the first fully autonomous robotic surveillance and monitoring system available off-the shelf.” VersaLogic will demo PatrolBot at the Embedded Systems Conference in Boston… next month.

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The device runs an unspecified version of embedded Linux on a VersaLogic VSBC-8. This Pentium III EBX-compliant single board computer was designed for high-end embedded applications. Additional PatrolBot features include laser, sonar, twin shaft encoders, gyroscopic correction system, and bump sensors.

Under the hood: VersaLogic's P-III-based VSBC-8 running embedded Linux
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Robotic surveillance: the time has come

Security concerns are leading laboratories, defense fabrication plants, data centers and other sensitive areas to remove human guards from the premises. Installing thousands of cameras to provide comprehensive surveillance can be costly in a large facility crowded with equipment. In such locations, mobile PatrolBots augment and back up fixed systems. PatrolBots are also used to carry sensors too expensive to install in large quantities, sensors that would get in the way if permanently installed, and/or new monitoring equipment needed on short notice.

PatrolBot's autonomous mobility

PatrolBot can travel to any destination in a known building, circumventing obstacles in its path and even finding an alternative route if a hallway is blocked. PatrolBot may make rounds of a building, heading to each destination on its chore list. When it reaches a goal, it may pan and zoom a camera image to a particular view, so that the guard watching can check a gauge or inspect an equipment surface. Both robot base and camera are programmable through PatrolBot control software.

People watching and listening to PCs linked wirelessly to PatrolBots may intercede to manually drive the robot and camera at any time. Or, PatrolBot may be integrated to respond to existing alarm systems and security devices. These systems feed their commands to PatrolBot's embedded Linux computer, which also handles processing for cameras, sound, and networking via wireless Ethernet.

The secret of PatrolBot is its ActivMedia Robotics Control System (ARCS) that lets the robot create a map of its assigned spaces and know where it is at all times. Unlike other robots that are remote controlled or that follow pre-determined paths, ARCS robots can go anywhere within their assigned territories, even if some corridors are blocked. PatrolBots are compatible with ActivMedia Robotics own Interface for Applications (ARIA) and ActivMedia Robotics Navigation and Localization (ARNL) software.


PatrolBot is available worldwide, with prices starting at $29,995 including software. Dock/charge station and installation are additional. Various camera systems are available, as well as other sensors and defense sprays. Custom design, integration and programming services are available.

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