TDK Launches Robotics Development Platform

Article By : Anne-Françoise Pelé

TDK has launched Robokit1, a robotics platform for quick prototyping and development with ROS1 and ROS2 compatible drivers and software algorithms.

The unpredictable Covid-19 pandemic has changed our perception of robots and making robots. At CES 2022, TDK launched Robokit1, a robotics platform for quick prototyping and development with ROS1 and ROS2 compatible drivers and software algorithms.

In its latest report, 70 Technology Trends That Will— And Will Not—Shape 2022, ABI Research anticipates that a total of 45,000 cobots and 452,000 mobile robots will be shipped in 2022, up 65% and 51% year-over-year.

Robots are gaining momentum, but as Anson Yeganegi, senior manager for business development, Robotics, at TDK InvenSense, said during a press conference at CES 2022, “one of the biggest frustrations that we’ve heard from our customers is that there is a lot of technology that goes into building a generic robot, and they have to go to multiple vendors.”

Yeganegi specified, “Typically, each individual sensor technology comes with its own sensor board. Sensor boards not only come from multiple vendors, but they have to be supported on multiple processor boards —anything from Raspberry Pi to Arduino. And, the icing on the very complicated cake, there are a lot of open source requirements from ROS-Industrial —ROS1 and ROS2.”

Technologies found in typical robot applications span from gyroscopes to cameras to microphones to embedded motor controllers to artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. Although it does not have the full range of technologies, TDK challenged its ability to help its customers accelerate their development and their time-to-market by creating a simplified board and reference design platform that would allow them to perform evaluation and development with as minimal vendors as possible.

Unveiled at CES 2022, the RoboKit1 development platform encompasses eight pieces of technology found in TDK’s portfolio: 6-axis IMUs, industrial modules, barometric pressure sensors, digital microphones, temperature sensors, ultrasonic time-of-flight connectors, magnetometers, and embedded motor controllers. On top of it, TDK said it brought an ARM Cortex M7 processor —running up to 300 Mhz— and an Atmel Embedded Debugger and made it compatible with the Raspberry Pi processor. The compatibility with both Nvidia Jetson and Google Coral is expected “in the following quarters”.

TDK RoboKit Robotic Development Kit
(Source: TDK)

“Yes, it’s a development board, but it’s actually so much more than that,” said Yeganegi.

TDK said it is also providing a library of software algorithms, ROS1- and ROS2-compliant drivers, and an open-source software library for user customization. Customers can also take a development platform and build a full robot reference design around it, the company claims. RoboKit1 indeed includes flex cables needed for additional technology, a metal chassis, a 3D printed housing, user guides, and Bluetooth modules “to have a fully functional reference design out of the box,” said Yeganegi.

When asked what stage of development it is most appropriate for, he said customers can use Robokit1 as “an idea starter in the concept phase” where they have a vision but don’t know how to get started. Conversely, it is suitable for customers who have the hardware and “just” want to do software algorithm development. In short, Robokit1 can be “useful at every stage” of robotics system development, said Yeganegi.

As part of the features, TDK said it has implemented a keyword spotting technology with noise filter as well as noise cancellation. Once “Hi TDK” is pronounced, the reference design on wheels starts moving, turns left, turns right in real time with immediate response to those four commands that live on the host processor.

TDK said its RoboKit1 can be ordered now from distribution channels around the world, and expects to have inventory on the shelf by the end of the month or early February.

This article was originally published on EE Times Europe.

Anne-Françoise Pelé is editor-in-chief of eetimes.eu and EE Times Europe.

 

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