Electronic Design
Forager Robot Has Tower Inside

Forager Robot Has Tower Inside

C-Link Systems builds autonomous robots like the Forager (Fig. 1) and the electronics inside. The Forager robot is available separately but it is designed to house boards based on Freescale's Tower development platform (see Prototyping A Tower). The Tower system is the same form factor boards used on Freescale's tiny MechBot (see A Towering MechBot).

The Forager's six-wheel electric drive chassis houses a 24V, 300Ah battery system. It has enough room to hold multiple processors and peripheral boards. The robot is 72-in by 19.5-in by 54-in and weight in at 1200 pounds. It is definitely designed to handle heavy duty, outdoor applications. Variations are available for different applications. Pricing starts at $19,500.

The Forager is a solid piece of hardware and its electronics can be utilized for other applications or robots. The cLS-FSTS-THM-x housing unit (Fig. 2) can hold multiple Tower stacks, power supplies and other electronics. The Tower system was designed for prototyping but this makes it a deployable system.

C-Link Systems supplies a range of Tower system-based boards that will work with other boards from other sources including Freescale. Freescale has delivered one or more boards for all its new processors.

Some of the interesting boards available from c-Link Systems include cLS-FSTS-FPGA (Fig. 3) and the cLS-FSTS-INS (Fig. 4) boards. The cLS-FSTS-FPGA board houses an Altera Cyclone III FPGA. The board has 512 Kbytes of SRAM. It can be a host processor with its own soft core processor.

Inertial navigation board, the cLS-FSTS-INS, includes a Freescale Coldfire MFC5212CAE66 processor. It also has 3-axis gyro, a 3-axis accelerometer, an electronic compass, and a Furuno GPS. There is also a headers for a serial port.

C-Link Systems has dozens of other Tower-based boards from the 2-axis DC Motor Drive board (cLS-FSTS-MC2-5) to the Zigbee cLS-FSTS-COMM board based on Digi International's XBee module (see XBee Adapter Board Eases Interface Chores). It also supplies other housing modules and DC-DC power supplies like the cLS-FSTS-DC48.

New platforms are being delivered as well. There are a number of new payloads like a Forager with an extendable arm  (Fig. 5).

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