TDK Launches Sensor-Packed Open Source SmartRobotics RoboKit1 with Full ROS, ROS 2 Support

All-in-one dev board includes Raspberry Pi support, on-board motor controller, and a range of sensors — plus drivers for ROS and ROS 2.

Gareth Halfacree
4 months agoRobotics

TDK has announced the launch of a new development kit for its SmartRobotics Platform, the RoboKit1 — which it claims is "a first of its kind" for integrating hardware from a range of TDK subsidiaries alongside a full software stack — and it's open source.

“TDK’s vision is to promote problem-solving solutions that integrate technology from across the TDK companies," explains Peter Hartwell, chief technology officer at TDK subsidiary InvenSense. "TDK RoboKit1 provides innovative hardware from multiple TDK group companies, but also provides full software stacks and algorithms that solve real robotics problems. This is truly a first of its kind and will help fast track robotics at any point during the development process, creating feature value that will set customers apart from their competition."

Designed to speed prototyping and development, the kit's hardware includes a motion controller, a six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) alongside an optional industrial-grade external IMU module, a pressure sensor, a temperature sensor, a magnetometer, microphone, an on-board motor controller, and three external time-of-flight (TOF) ultrasonic distance sensors.

The heart of the board is a Microchip SAME70Q21B microcontroller with an Arm Cortex-M7 processor running at up to 300MHz, 348kB of static RAM, and 2MB of flash. The board includes a header with 12 general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins, serial, UART, USB 3.0 and auxiliary USB 2.0 connectivity, while TDK provides support at launch for the Raspberry Pi and Asus Tinker Board 2 and 2S families of single-board computers — with support for the Google Coral Dev Board and NVIDIA Jetson range to follow.

As well as the core board, TDK provides a full robotics prototype platform including a 3D-printed shell with mounting points for the three bundled ultrasonic sensors, a two-wheel chassis with motors and mounting plates, an Espressif ESP32 module for Bluetooth connectivity — but while a physical on/off switch is included in the bundle, you'll have to provide your own battery.

On the software side, TDK provides open source firmware and drivers for both the Robot Operating System (ROS) 1 and ROS 2 — a feature the company hopes will help the board and kit appeal to hobbyists and educational institutions as well as developers looking to prototype with TDK sensors before moving on to developing their own platforms.

TDK has opened pre-orders for both the board and the full robotics kit via its resellers, with a view to shipping the first hardware by the middle of this quarter. More details are available on the InvenSense website.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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