Munich, Germany (08/24/2009) - This summer, the junior soccer competition at the RoboCup world championship in Graz, Austria recognized the talents of two young inventors and highlighted the performance and flexibility of the Blackfin®-powered Spoerle Embedded Platform Concept (EPC). Jonas and Benno Timmermann of Team T’n’T won with their autonomous robot based on the Blackfin BF527 processor from Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI). The latest victory for the brothers from Germany follows their success in two categories of the soccer competition at the 8th Junior RoboCup German Open 2009, which took place in Hannover this spring.
Launched in April 2009, the EPC is based around a variety of high-performance Analog Devices components including Blackfin, and is available directly through Spoerle. A division of Arrow Electronics, Spoerle is the largest distributor of electronic components in Germany and Central Europe. Its EPC provides embedded developers with ready access to flexible combinations of components that expedite the development process. Spoerle provided Team T’n’T with the EPC used in the robots they developed for this year’s contests.
“The Blackfin processor module gives me the processor and interface performance I need to successfully compete at a championship level,” said Jonas Timmermann. “The module’s power and design flexibility also means that I’ll soon be able to gain experience with the same platform in other demanding areas, such as the uClinux operating system, the graphical user interface via a TFT display, or the evaluation of video data from an image sensor.”
“We applaud the ingenuity of the Timmermann brothers’ design, they have demonstrated impressive skill in developing their entry for this world competition,” said Steve van der Wolf, Distribution Business Development Manager Europe at Analog Devices. “When we started the EPC project with Spoerle, the goal was to make product development faster and easier. The victory of these student inventors shows the concept in action. We congratulate Jonas and Benno, and wish them continued success with their education and in future designs.”
The Blackfin processor’s ‘converged’ architecture natively performs control functions as well as fixed point digital signal processing (DSP) with a dual MAC design. This offers important design and performance advantages over the 8-bit microcontrollers with a maximum clock frequency of 16MHz that are typically used in the junior division of the RoboCup. For instance, the CPU performance, with the aid of trigonometric calculations, enables efficient calculation of the position and angle of the robot from the goal.
The fast SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) enables more sensors to be polled in a shorter time and thus the required game actions can be calculated more frequently and with better accuracy. The sensors used for ball positioning include 60 phototransistors, while navigation makes use of four ultrasonic sensors and one compass, mouse, and acceleration sensor.
Thanks to the module’s numerous PWM (Pulse Width Modulator) channels, multiple motors can be under the control of the programmable Blackfin processor. Some interfaces and functions (including timers, GPIO pins, and PWM channels) that are implemented in the FPGA on the Blackfin board free up the processor and enable significant simplifications to be made to the software design. The VisualDSP++® development environment enables debug tasks and measured values to be displayed as real-time data and thus simplifies debugging and development time.
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