UDOO Unveils Dual-Chip RP2040, ESP32 Edge AI KEY Development Board — Launching at Just $4

"Once-in-a-lifetime price" that matches a Raspberry Pi Pico alone only available for early Kickstarter backers — after which it'll be $20.

UPDATE (10/4/2021: The UDOO Key crowdfunding campaign is now live on Kickstarter, and has already raised more than double the project's modest $10,000 funding goal.

As promised, early bird backers can purchase one of 1,000 UDOO Key units at $4 plus shipping, or opt for the UDOO KEY PRO at $9 — getting an on-board nine-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) and digital microphone, both missing from the base model.

Once early birds have run out, UDOO is asking $13 for the base KEY and $18 for the KEY Pro.

Original article continues below.

Embedded computing specialist UDOO is preparing to launch a crowdfunding campaign for an edge AI development board that melds a Raspberry Pi RP2040 with an Espressif ESP32 in a single unusually-shaped device dubbed the UDOO KEY — and it's selling the first units for just $4, the same price as a Raspberry Pi Pico.

"UDOO KEY is a fully programmable board combining Raspberry Pi RP2040 and ESP32 into a single powerful solution," the company claims of its unusually-shaped development board design. "It allows you to use either RP2040, ESP32 or both to build any AI projects on your terms."

The lower half of the board looks for all the world like a Raspberry Pi Pico, complete with the castellated general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pin headers suitable for either breadboard or surface-mount installation. At the centre, just like the Pico, is an RP2040 microcontroller with a dual-core Arm Cortex-M0 processor clocked at 133MHz, 264kB of static RAM (SRAM), and 8MB of QSPI external flash — plus the RP2040's most interesting feature, its eight programmable input/output (PIO) state machines.

The considerably broader upper half lacks pin headers of its own, and plays host to a USB Type-C port for data and power along with a expansion header based on the Olimex UEXT standard and the KEY's second microcontroller: An Espressif ESP32 module, adding a dual-core Xtensa LX6 processor, 8MB of pseudo-static RAM (PSRAM), 16MB of flash storage, and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. There's also an on-board microphone and a nine-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) added for good measure.

UDOO claims the design offers the best of both worlds, offering full compatibility with Raspberry Pi Pico accessories and Olimex UEXT compatible modules. The company is also flexing the board's edge AI capabilities, boasting of support for tinyML and TensorFlow Lite on top of compatibility with MicroPython, the Arduino IDE, C/C++, and the Clea AI platform.

The company has set the retail price for the board at a reasonable $20, but is offering early backers of its impending Kickstarter campaign a steep discount which puts the price at just $4 aboard — matching the price of a Raspberry Pi Pico alone.

A launch date has not yet been announced, but interested parties can find out more and sign up to be notified when the campaign goes live on the UDOO website.

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