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Laser-guided French robots run Linux

Aug 21, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

A French robotics start-up called Wany Robotics has announced two mobile, mini-ITX-based sensor robots that run Linux. Aimed at educational and R&D applications, the PeKeeII robots are based on Via C3 or Intel Core 2 Duo processors, and offer sensor telemetry, ultrasound, and laser detection.

Wany offers “Advanced” and “Ultimate” robots, both of which are built atop the same “Essential” PeKeeII model. Supplied without an onboard computer or OS, the Essential model is equipped with dual 12V DC motors running off of a 12V 7A/h NiMh battery. It has two odometers, 360-degree bumpers, and light and temperature sensors.

PeKeeII Advanced (left) and Ultimate (right) robots

To that, the Advanced and Ultimate models add a mini-ITX embedded PC board running Linux or Windows. They also offer an infrared telemetry module with 16 patented sensors that support distance measurement, obstacle avoidance, and other applications, says Wany.

The Advanced model's single-board computer is powered by a Via C3, and has 512MB RAM and 4GB flash. It has WiFi, USB, Firewire (1394), and an audio chipset.

The Ultimate's board, meanwhile, has an Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB DDR2, and a 20GB hard drive. The Ultimate also adds GPS, Bluetooth, a 433MHz radio, and a pan-tilt webcam. In addition, it boasts ultrasound and laser modules designed to detect objects. Like the infrared unit, the ultrasound module boasts a range of 5cm to 3 meters. The laser module provides a 5.6 meter range, and can detect objects down to 1cm accuracy, claims the company.

PeKeeII Advanced (left) and Ultimate (right) robots (detail)

Both Linux and Windows operating systems are supported, on either board. Supported robotics software includes Player, URBI, or Microsoft Robotics Studio (MRS). (For more information on these and other robotics software platforms, refer to our recently updated robotic software review.)

Specs for the mobility, PC, and infrared modules on the PekeeII Advanced and Ultimate robots include:

  • Mobility:
    • Dual 12V DC motors
    • Dual odometers (255 560 tops per wheel cycle)
    • 360-degree bumpers
    • 12V 7A/h NiMh battery
    • Light and temperature sensors
  • Embedded PC:
    • Via C3 (Adv.) or Intel Core 2 Duo T7100 (Ult.)
    • 512MB RAM (Adv.) or 2GB DDR2 (Ult.)
    • 4GB flash drive (Adv. only)
    • 20GB hard drive (Ult. only)
    • WiFi 802.11b/g
    • USB 2.0
    • Firewire (1394)
    • Audio chipset
    • GPS (Ult. only)
    • Bluetooth (Ult. only)
    • 433MHz radio (Ult. only)
    • Pan-tilt webcam (Ult. only)
  • Infrared:
    • 16 Wany patented sensors
    • Low power consumption
    • 360-degree detection
    • 5cm to 3 meter range
    • IR beacon detection and comm. support (Ult. only)

In addition, the PeKeeII Ultimate offers ultrasound and laser modules, with the following features:

  • Ultrasound:
    • 8 sensors
    • 360-degree detection
    • 5cm to 3 meter range
    • Multi-echo filtering algorithm
    • Obstacle polar measure
  • Laser range:
    • Laser Class 1 FDA safety
    • 5.6-meter range
    • 1cm accuracy
    • 0.36-degree angular resolution

Montpellier, France-based Wany Robotics is a spinoff from the Robotics Department at LIRMM (Montpellier Laboratory of Computer Science, Robotics, and Micro-electronics).


The PeKeeII models will be available in September, says Wany Robotics, and are available with the following starting prices:

  • PeKeeII Essential (no CPU or OS) — 3,500 Euros (about $5,157 US)
  • PeKeeII Advanced — 5,500 Euros ($8,104)
  • PeKeeII Ultimate — 12,300 Euros ($18,123)

For more on Linux-compatible robots, see our “Linux-powered Robots Quick Reference Guide”.

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