Say hello to the affordable and complete robotics controller built around the BeagleBone open hardware computer

Watch out, Raspberry Pi! It looks like there’s some fresh
hot competition on the horizon. The BeagleBoard.org Foundation has just
released its latest single-board computer, the BeagleBoard Blue, and it aims to make building Linux-powered robots easier than ever.

BeagleBoard_Blue

The BeagleBone Blue aims to simplify robotics projects. Image source: BeagleBoard.

Although the popular Raspberry Pi is a favorite board among
makers and students, the original BeagleBoard single-board computer predates
it. Because it’s fully open hardware, the entire BeagleBoard family has a huge advantage
over its competition, being that open hardware allows anyone to tinker with the
design in order to build spin-off boards with the features they need. The BeagleBoard Foundation designs
and releases official boards, with the BeagleBoard Blue being the latest
addition. 

What’s
more, the $79.95 BeagleBone Blue has easy-to-use features that can get your
robotics projects up and running quickly. 

“Unlike
some other platforms that expect you to connect a keyboard, monitor, and mouse
to program, we simply expect you to use your Wi-Fi network and browser,” co-founder
of BeagleBoard, Jason Kridner, told Electronic Products. “We don’t rely on any
services in the cloud as the development tools are directly hosted and served off
the board. By running Linux, you can log in while your robot is running and
collect data or provide stimulus, without needed to do a lot of extra coding,”
he said. “At this price, we feel we have a remarkably novel set of features.” 

BeagleBone_Blue_Diagram

The BeagleBone Blue builds on the BeagleBone
Black platform but adds features dedicated to motor control and sensing. Image source: Arrow.

Designed
for robotics projects, the BeagleBone Blue builds on the BeagleBone Black
platform but adds features dedicated to motor control and sensing. A battery
management circuit supports charging and discharging for self-contained builds,
there are dedicated pulse-width and pulse-position modulated outputs for eight
6 V servo motors, or electronic speed controller control, and there are four DC
motors and inputs for four quadratic encoders. The board also packs a nine-axis
inertial measurement unit and a barometer on-board, four analogue-to-digital
converter inputs for additional analogue sensors, and support for the
Controller Area Network bus protocol. Integrated Wi-Fi connectivity and the expected
BeagleBone features, such as numerous GPIO ports and both USB host and device
ports, are also included. 

“We
chose robotics because we see robotics as they key to get kids interested in
programming,” said Kridner. “Developing apps on phones and computers can be
very intimidating and we want people to feel empowered.”

Built around an Octavo Systems OSD3358
system-in-package featuring a 1 GHz Texas Instruments AM3358 ARM Cortex-A8
processor, 512 MB of RAM, and two dedicated 200MHz 32-bit programmable
real-time unit microcontrollers, the BeagleBone Blue is equipped with a
pre-loaded Linux distribution with additional support for Debian, the robot
operating system, and the Ardupilot autopilot and remote control platform. 

To
purchase the BeagleBoard Blue, visit beagleboard.org/blue.