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Raspberry Pi 3 Sufficient?

asked 2017-01-11 08:01:19 -0600

tommytwoeyes gravatar image

updated 2017-01-11 10:10:15 -0600

I'm a ROS beginner, and am also pretty n00b with respect to robotics in general. I'm really into it but with limited time for my hobby, I'm making slow progress.

I have a UGV-type robot project I'm working on. I have a platform/base (Wild Thumper), motor controller, ATmega and ATtiny MCUs for sensor/actuator interfacing, but haven't yet decided which computer will be best for central processing.

I'd really like to use a single-board computer, with the small size and cost, naturally. Clearly, lots of people have been using the Raspberry Pi for quite some time now, but with my limited experience, I'm having difficulty determining if it has sufficient resources.

I'm preparing to order a Pi 3, but just realized the Raspberry Pi foundation has announced all previous upgrade releases on Feb. 29. So maybe I should wait for a Pi 4, I thought. Some people speculate that the Raspberry Pi won't release as many significant updates this year, though, with upgrades aimed at industrial customers.

So, my bottom line: does the Pi 3 have sufficient resources for running ROS effectively? I realize some of the more resource-intensive components (rviz, maybe?) might not feasibly run on it, but otherwise is it a do-able? If so, what limitations can be expected? All OS compatibility/dependencies/etc issues aside, what limitations are imposed by running on a relatively meager platform (with respect to a laptop; no disrespect to the Pi!)?

I tried initially to use ROS on a Radxa Rock, which had a 1.8GHz quad-core ARM CPU and 2GB of RAM. Unfortunately, I had some difficulty installing and updating the OS, and support for it appears to have waned. I haven't found any other SBC more powerful than the Raspberry Pi within my budget, and the support available global Pi community is an enormous advantage.


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You can definitely do 2D mobile robot navigation. But adding vision might bring the RPi3 to its limits.

spmaniato gravatar image spmaniato  ( 2017-01-11 11:29:17 -0600 )edit

Thanks. I figured it must have some limitations in terms of processor-intensive tasks, or all the robots would have chucked their laptops over for SBCs. That'll be enough for me to get started and learn about for a while anyway.

tommytwoeyes gravatar image tommytwoeyes  ( 2017-01-11 14:12:35 -0600 )edit

4 Answers

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answered 2017-01-11 16:51:46 -0600

updated 2017-01-18 17:28:50 -0600

There are several ROS robots using the Raspberry Pi 3. The MIT Duckietown uses the RPi3 and uses an on board camera for autonomous navigation. The Linorobot is also based on the Raspberry Pi3. The development of base model of the Turtlebot3 is also using the RPi3.

You can look at these robots and determine if they demonstrate similar capabilities to your needs.

Update with link to TB3 material:

You can ready Turtlebot3 updates on -

Update on one more Raspberry Pi 3 Bot:

LoCoRo (low cost robot). It's a "work in progress". Uses RC servo motors for the drive chassis; supports differential drive and mecanum drive (via geometry_msgs/Twist); currently only teleop as it doesn't yet has any sensors; can use webapp on smartphone/tablet as virtual game controller; CAD models for 3D printing mounting bird for electronics, drive chassis, and wheels.

Update regarding use of Ubuntu Xenial server image:

If you use this ( ) image of Ubuntu for the Raspberry Pi, You should immediate disable and prevent updates of the raspi2 files. There are several big which may render the SD card unusable and require re-imaging. There are relevant bugs being tracked for the various code streams of Ubuntu. There is a detailed step-by-step for Ubuntu+ROS on RPi here:

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Really? Sweet. Sure sounds adequate, then. I'm almost more excited about the Turtlebot 3! This is the first I'm hearing about it. Any idea about a release date? (ballpark?) :)

tommytwoeyes gravatar image tommytwoeyes  ( 2017-01-11 17:34:16 -0600 )edit

I've added a link the the answer. It is one of several posts on pertaining to the Turtlebot3

suforeman gravatar image suforeman  ( 2017-01-11 18:02:29 -0600 )edit

Thanks man. I just read the IEEE Spectrum article from OSRF. How awesome is it that they've designed it to be both as affordable as possible (you can virtually print one, sounds like?!) & as versatile as possible? Anyway, it's nice to know where my tax refund is going. I was going to buy an iphone.

tommytwoeyes gravatar image tommytwoeyes  ( 2017-01-11 19:01:05 -0600 )edit

The CPU of the Raspberry Pi 3 already allows to run a bunch of nodes and process some data. Don't expect to be able to run RViz smoothly if your model contains more than 10 cylinders. If you need a stronger CPU take a look at Odroid cards, but I don't know if RViz will run any better with them.

VictorLamoine gravatar image VictorLamoine  ( 2017-01-12 07:35:43 -0600 )edit

answered 2017-01-11 11:16:05 -0600

ChriMo gravatar image


I've stopped all activities with RPI 1/2/3 because of performance problems and a lot of pain with poor and weak storage :-(

Use a small sized and cheap Intel NUC and have a lot of fun without hardware problems. I like 12V NUCs with 8 GB Mem and 64 GB SSD very much (<200 Euro).

Cheers Christian

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I tried getting up & running with a RPi 2, but it was painful. It clearly can be done, but I'd rather spend what time I have learning ROS. I looked for Intel-based solutions but didn't find one in my $ range. Also, how many GPIO pins do they have generally? The ones I found seemed to be geared

tommytwoeyes gravatar image tommytwoeyes  ( 2017-01-11 14:19:46 -0600 )edit

toward the DIY PC and media center market. I didn't see a lot of Intel SBCs which looked like they were designed for hardware hacking (though that's changing, I think). Don't know much about the NUCs though. I'll check them out. Do you have any favorite models?

tommytwoeyes gravatar image tommytwoeyes  ( 2017-01-11 14:23:10 -0600 )edit

@ChriMo p.s. Why do you prefer the 12V NUCs?

tommytwoeyes gravatar image tommytwoeyes  ( 2017-01-11 16:28:27 -0600 )edit

I use 12V NUCs because it was very easy for me to find standard mobile power supplies. For developments it doesn't matter, but when going to the field and try real navigation, it is very comfortable to use cheap 12V batteries.

ChriMo gravatar image ChriMo  ( 2017-01-12 02:19:36 -0600 )edit

answered 2017-01-11 15:00:13 -0600

raveinid gravatar image
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Wow, yeah - those look really nice. A quad-core with about 4GB of RAM is what I'd think would be a decent single-board-computer platform for a ROS robot. Those are the specs that the netbook laptop that came with my Turtlebot had, anyway.

tommytwoeyes gravatar image tommytwoeyes  ( 2017-01-11 15:43:15 -0600 )edit

Too bad I missed the special price on the RealSense kit. How much was it before Dec 30, 2016? It's $349 now. I was aiming for < $100. The UP Board is enticing, though. One has 2GB of RAM for $99. Thanks

tommytwoeyes gravatar image tommytwoeyes  ( 2017-01-11 15:44:29 -0600 )edit

answered 2017-01-11 10:53:56 -0600

I guess it depends on what you're trying to do. iRobot has published a tutorial for Create running ROS Indigo on a Raspberry Pi 2 with a PrimeSensor, so it's possible, but I don't know how the performance is.

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Thanks - that's awesome! I got a good deal on a TurtleBot v1 but haven't played with it because of this UGV project. It has an older model Create, but maybe the API won't be too different. Really cool. Maybe it's more feasible than I thought it would be.

tommytwoeyes gravatar image tommytwoeyes  ( 2017-01-11 14:40:34 -0600 )edit

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Asked: 2017-01-11 08:01:19 -0600

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Last updated: Jan 18 '17