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Development boards to use with ROS

asked 2014-04-28 15:25:19 -0600

nvoltex gravatar image

There are already some questions of this type around the ROSanswers, however they are either pretty outdated or lack information.

Since I'm going to develop an UAV I'm searching for a development board that's small and light, as some GPIO ports with PWM (since I will need to control rotors on my aerial vehicle), some USB ports (I would need at least 3, but if the board has less than that I can probably work around that with an usb hub), good enough performance to handle GPS, IMU and camera data and that runs Ubuntu (12.04?) and ROS.

From what I saw till now boards like beaglebone black and raspberry pi seem to work with ROS, however I couldn't actually find projects that use this boards in order to prove how well they behave.

Can you help me?

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answered 2014-04-28 17:44:05 -0600

ahendrix gravatar image

I know a number of projects have had good luck with the BeagleBone Black and the Odroid U3. The beaglebone will have more I/O, and the Odroid U3 will have significantly more processing power. I've seen a few unpublished projects now that are running an Asus Xtion device off a Odroid U3 using ROS, and doing some pretty cool work.

I also know at least one group that is successfully running ROS on the Radxa Rock board, and it seems like a pretty solid board.

The new Nvidia Jetson TK1 board looks interesting, but they haven't started shipping yet, so there haven't been any projects using them. It it runs Ubuntu, you should be able to install ROS on it.

I would stay away from the Raspberry Pi. They tend to be underpowered and overhyped, and it's more difficult to install ROS on them.

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The beaglebone black seems like a great board and it was the one I prefered to begin with. Is the Ubuntu and ROS installation smooth? I have never worked with that board (in fact I have never worked with any non-pc board besides arduino). Do you have any links to ROS projects on beaglebone? Thanks

nvoltex gravatar image nvoltex  ( 2014-04-29 00:04:02 -0600 )edit

Oh! Besides that, using an usb hub (with external power) won't be a problem with such a board, right? Cause the board only has 1 usb port.

nvoltex gravatar image nvoltex  ( 2014-04-29 00:07:01 -0600 )edit

I got my beablebone black up and running with Ubuntu and ROS in a few hours; the installation was quite smooth. I've seen a couple of projects using them in person, but I don't think any are published online.

ahendrix gravatar image ahendrix  ( 2014-04-29 06:37:04 -0600 )edit

answered 2014-04-28 20:31:06 -0600

updated 2014-04-28 20:32:06 -0600

I have a similar project to use on-board computer vision for obstacle avoidance. I did a little research on what development platforms where suitable for that and I finally bought a Cubieboard 2. It is powerful and cheap, but if you need connectivity you may preffer the cubieboard 3 (named truck).

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What's the main difference bettwen cubieboard 3 and 2 that make you say that? And how's the ubuntu and ROS installation on a cubieboard?

nvoltex gravatar image nvoltex  ( 2014-04-29 00:16:18 -0600 )edit

I haven't yet managed to install Ubuntu nor ROS. I chose it because it was 1Ghz dual core and under 100$. Nonetheless, I'll use an ardupilot for low-level computation like stabilization and driving the motors, and I'm not sure how this could be accomplished using the cubieboard.

alejandrodanielnoel gravatar image alejandrodanielnoel  ( 2014-04-29 19:56:21 -0600 )edit

answered 2014-04-28 20:58:59 -0600

Note that for quadrotor/UAV use, commonly a microcontroller system is used to perform low level control/stabilization (sending out PWM/motor commands under hard real-time constraints), while a board like the ODROID might additionally be used for additional higher level computation (image processing etc.). It is possible in principle to do it all on the computer board, but that will likely require using a hard real-time Linux variant and significant effort both in terms of hard- and software development. If you search for "odroid autopilot" you´ll find mostly examples of the above mentioned separation of microcontroller-based dedicated autopilot and the ODROID used additionally.

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It's a blimp system that will fly slowly and in favorable weather conditions so stabilization won't be a problem. ODROID is a great platform however since I don't really want to use another board for the motor control (weight problems). Good suggestion anyway!

nvoltex gravatar image nvoltex  ( 2014-04-28 23:57:49 -0600 )edit

answered 2014-06-03 22:34:56 -0600

unknown_entity1 gravatar image

I'm contemplating building a new controller board for this purpose, to integrate with my java based autonomous robot controller. Nothing I've found available off the shelf has low enough latency response times, power usage, and high enough system resources to handle hundreds of simultaneous ros topics/services and equal numbers of high speed low latency hardware connections.

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answered 2014-06-03 03:15:42 -0600

Praetorian gravatar image

ahendrix, you wrote: "I also know at least one group that is successfully running ROS on the Radxa Rock board, and it seems like a pretty solid board."

I recently have purchased a Rock and would like to know more about this group. If they have a website or something, can you please either post or PM me.


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I think they're using the ROS ARM debs on top of the provided Ubuntu or Linaro image for the board. They don't have a website or public docs that I'm aware of; sorry.

ahendrix gravatar image ahendrix  ( 2014-06-03 03:55:04 -0600 )edit

answered 2014-06-03 04:19:14 -0600

updated 2014-06-03 04:22:35 -0600

I had a similar project which used an on-board embedded system.

The board we choose is Odroid XU (similar to the Odroid U3 @ahendrix mentioned but much more powerful) We install the Ubuntu 13.04 to support the Ubuntu-ARM ROS, the kernel is downloaded form the forum of Odroid.

It works perfectly, we use its serial port to communicate with another board which has GPIO/PWM pins also with an IMU. There are also some usb ports on XU that allow us use usb-port device.

One more suggestion is the GALILEO from Intel.

The GALILEO has its own ROS wiki page, so I think that should also be a good choice.

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Asked: 2014-04-28 15:25:19 -0600

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Last updated: Jun 03 '14