The Raspberry Pi boards, and especially Raspberry Pi 3, are very often used in robotics. The list of reasons is long and includes WiFi connection, GPIO, USB ports, a powerful processor, 1GB RAM, compatibility with a number of Linux distributions, documentation for almost anything you need, and a large community.
It’s hard to match the Raspberry Pi records, no matter which version of the board we’re talking about. The only option is to fill a niche where Pi is not useful enough.
The Husarion company from Poland (and an office in the US) has been launched a fundraising campaign on Crowd Supply to launch two development boards for Internet-connected robots. One of the boards is CORE2, and the second one is CORE2-ROS, an enhanced version of the CORE2.
In this article, I will focus on the advanced CORE2-ROS version. As described in the presentation of the board, this version is designed to be used in particular for the development of autonomous robots. That being said, I made a list of the most important features of the board.
- the first important feature is running the ROS framework. It is preinstalled on a custom Linux version and includes all packages and libraries;
- the board has dedicated hardware to easily control sensors, servo motors, and DC motors. The ports allow the attachment of up to four DC motors and their direct control without a motor driver. Of course, the ports can control DC motors with limited power;
- the control of up to 6 servo motors. The board has a DC-DC converter to allow changing the voltage level between 5, 6, 7.4, and 8.6V;
- the board programming can be done online and offline. The online IDE ‘Husarion Cloud Web’ allows you to control and program the board through a web interface. An extension of Visual Studio Code is used for offline programming;
- the compatibility with LEGO and Makeblock is a great advantage. For each of the two kits there is an add-on that connects the CORE2-ROS to the robotics kit;
- a multitude of input/output pins. 42 in number. In other words, in addition to specially designed ports for DC motors and servo-motor control, the board can control a multitude of other sensors;
- the compatibility with Arduino libraries is also another great advantage. All Arduino libraries can be used directly with CORE2-ROS without any changes;
- the designers also thought about securing the data. The connection between the cloud and the CORE2-ROS board is through an SSL connection;
What I don’t like
I have to admit there are few things at CORE2-ROS that I do not like. Indeed, if those who wrote the article on the crowdfunding platform were more careful about the details, one thing would be removed from the negative side of the board.
- I’m not sure if CORE2-ROS comes in two variants. The description is: a single board computer Raspberry Pi 3 (ARMv8, 1.2GHz, 1GB RAM, 16GB Flash) or ASUS Tinker Board (ARMv7-A, 1.8GHz, 2GB RAM, 16GB Flash). So, I could have a CORE2-ROS version similar to Raspberry Pi and another one with the ASUS Tinker Board? This point should be clarified by those who launched the fundraising campaign;
- a few USB ports. A larger number of USB ports would have been a plus for the board;
The Crowd Supply campaign is here, and runs until 6 August.
The final price for CORE2-ROS will be $139.