Fri, 25 Jun 2010

Surveyor SRV-1 Blackfin Robot on CNN

CNN news link:

Posted Fri, 25 Jun 2010 14:21 | HTML Link | see additional stories ...

Sat, 19 Jun 2010

BSM RoboCupRescue in Singapore

We are receiving daily reports from the Benilde-St Margaret's RoboCup team as they prepare for RoboCupJr Search competition at the 2010 RoboCup championships in Singapore.

Benilde-St Margaret's Advanced Competitive Science (BSM ACS) team has been one of the SRV-1 Blackfin's most active developers, originating the SRV-RCM expansion board, helping in development of labview-srv console for LabVIEW and extending the definition of robot functions supported in SRV-1 picoC.

BSM ACS is the sole US team competing against 26 other teams representing Japan, Germany, Thailand, Iran and others. The team is maintaining an active blog during their trip - make certain to follow their progress and wish them well at

Posted Sat, 19 Jun 2010 12:38 | HTML Link | see additional stories ...

Tue, 15 Jun 2010

First SRV1Console images from SRV-1 Blackfin Linux

We just captured first images from simple srv1 server application running on the Blackfin uclinux port. There's some corrupted frames due to character post-processing on the stdio console that we haven't been able to completely clear, but 50% of the frames are getting through intact. Here's a sample. Apologies for picture quality - lots of reflections from the afternoon sun:

Once the console issue is resolved, the next tasks are adding support for OV7725 (this was taken via OV9655), bumping the baud rate to work at full speed with the Matchport, and then porting various robot controls to our SRV_protocol, SRV_httpd and picoC interfaces. Lots to do, but this was an encouraging first step.

Posted Tue, 15 Jun 2010 18:01 | HTML Link | see additional stories ...

Sun, 13 Jun 2010

SRV-1 / SVS Blackfin Linux

We're making a push to bring our Linux support on the SRV-1 / SVS up to date. Details are found here -

The basic plan is to migrate all of the SRV_protocol, SRV_httpd, and picoC capabilities to run under uClinux, thereby maintaining compatibility with our various Java consoles, labview-srv, Roborealm, etc. The main issue will be adding 2500kbps communication via the Matchport, but we think we have a mechanism to handle this, as the kernel now supports hardware flow control that is required by the Matchport. This project is a top priority and we hope to make significant progress in the upcoming weeks.

Posted Sun, 13 Jun 2010 11:19 | HTML Link | see additional stories ...

Fri, 14 May 2010

Fun with planes, parafoils and robots

Snowflake is a collaboration between Naval Postgraduate School and University of Alabama in Huntsville to develop single and multiple autonomously guided parafoils. The project, described in detail here, uses an Arcturus T-20 UAV to launch the parafoils and a Surveyor SVS-based robot with Inertia Labs Renegade base to autonomously locate the parafoils after landing.

We had the opportunity last week to view Snowflake field tests at CIRPAS McMillan Airfield. The Arcturus launched a pair of Snowflake parafoils from 3500-ft, and upon touchdown, the Snowflake controller transmitted GPS coordinates that were relayed to the robot. The robot then autonomously moved to the transmitted coordinates using a script written in picoC. We witnessed 3 successful UAV launch and robot retrieval cycles. Future tests will include drop of a smaller version of the Surveyor robot by parafoil.

Arcturus ready to launch. Note underwing pod carrying the parafoil.

Parafoil approaching the ground

Robot receives parafoil GPS coordinates

Robot driving through the grass to reach parafoil

Arcturus approaching touchdown

Posted Fri, 14 May 2010 12:42 | HTML Link | see additional stories ...

Fri, 23 Apr 2010

"NAMO" - Mascot robot for Institute for Field Robotics with SRV-1 Blackfin

"NAMO" was built as a mascot robot for The Institute of FIeld roBOtics at KMUTT (FIBO) in Thailand. It sports a three-wheel omni-directional wheel system, two arms, and an SRV-1 Blackfin camera vision system.

More information is found here. Thanks to John Palmisano of Society of Robots for telling us about this project.

Posted Fri, 23 Apr 2010 12:16 | HTML Link | see additional stories ...

Wed, 21 Apr 2010

SRV-1q Mod for Surveillance

One of our robot users at University of Malaga has developed a very nice mod of the SRV-1q robot to support surveillance applications.

The casing which is positioned by tilt servo is made of PVC. The electronics have been inverted, as seen here:

A full description of the mod is found here.. Translation for the description from Spanish to English is found here.

Posted Wed, 21 Apr 2010 11:13 | HTML Link | see additional stories ...

Thu, 01 Apr 2010

Surveyor programming interfaces (API's)

There are several control options for the SRV-1 / SVS, and it isn't always obvious what approach might be best. Here's a summary:
  • SRV_protocol: this is the control interface we have provided since the earliest of our SRV-1 robots, and while we continue to add new functions, the core functionality remains the same - mainly ASCII-based commands to access motors, sensors, on-board processing, and system configuration. Through this interface, we directly support four different console programs as well as a variety of third-party and user-developed consoles:

  • SRV HTTP: this uses the browser as the robot control console, and generally works with smart phones as well as full-sized computers. Almost all of the functions accessed via SRV_protocol are available through the HTTP interface.

  • picoC: this is the onboard C-interpreter that enables programming the SRV-1/SVS for fully autonomous behaviors. Most of the SRV_protocol functions are available under program control with ANSI-C syntax.
There is another option of extending the firmware functionality by modifying source code. The firmware is hosted as an open-source Google Code project -, with compiler toolchains found on our website - see

Posted Thu, 01 Apr 2010 18:11 | HTML Link | see additional stories ...

Wed, 24 Mar 2010

Building a remote controlled WALL-E robot

The author of AForge.NET C# framework for computer vision, neural nets and robotics has built a WALL-E !

Robot control is based on the Surveyor SVS (stereo vision system). The project is described at length here. Details of the build as well as the control software are provided.

Posted Wed, 24 Mar 2010 20:07 | HTML Link | see additional stories ...

Tue, 16 Mar 2010

"labview-srv" - a LabVIEW-based console for SRV-1 / SVS Blackfin

This is a first test version 0.1 of the labview-srv LabVIEW 2009 console for SRV-1 / SVS Blackfin, written by Dr Chris Rogers of Tufts University ( and Tim Jump of Benilde-St Margaret's School, using QT libraries by Christophe Salzmann of EPFL.

The code includes support for live video capture, motion control, firmware uploads, picoC editing and interaction, with many additional features planned. Feedback from testers will be greatly appreciated.

The project is hosted on Google Code - Please report any problems to

Posted Tue, 16 Mar 2010 19:23 | HTML Link | see additional stories ...

Fri, 12 Mar 2010

RoboCup Junior soccer team based on SRV-1 Blackfin headed to Singapore

This is a high school RoboCup Junior soccer team VELASRANDY from Slovakia using SRV-1 Blackfin camera and SRV-RCM expansion board for image processing and control. They just won their national competition and are headed to international competition in Singapore. Very impressive !!!

Original Video

More information here.

Posted Fri, 12 Mar 2010 15:00 | HTML Link | see additional stories ...

Sat, 13 Feb 2010

miniSVS - a reduced footprint version of the SVS Blackfin stereo vision system

In response to a request from the GMU RoboPatriots for a more compact version of the SVS to fit their RoboCup robots, we shrunk the original SVS layout from 6" x 2.5" to 4" x 2.5" (100mm x 63mm). The new camera spacing is 2.25" (55mm), though for the RoboPatriots, the spacing isn't an issue, as they are running ribbon cables from Blackfin to cameras mounted elsewhere on the robot.

We are calling the new board the "miniSVS". In shrinking the board, we removed some functionality that the soccerbots didn't need, including FAN8200 H-bridge, antenna mount, laser pointer drivers, and SPI interconnect. In place of the SPI interconnect, we are using a pair of GPIO lines with a soft UART driver.

The basic assumption was that this board would be used with other motor drivers with serial or servo interface, though perhaps this configuration would be attractive to existing SRV-1 robot users. If that turns out to be the case and there is sufficient interest, we can look at adding back the H-bridge and laser drivers.

As with the full-sized SVS, the miniSVS does include interfaces to 8 timers (4 on each Blackfin) with 5V power and servo headers, along with low battery detect circuit.

Those who are interested in the miniSVS or variations should send us
an email, and we will consider adding this to our standard product list.

Posted Sat, 13 Feb 2010 19:02 | HTML Link | see additional stories ...

Tue, 09 Feb 2010

SRV-1 / SVS Blackfin HTTP functionality extended to support most SRV_protocol robot control functions -

The latest version of SRV-1 / SVS Blackfin firmware adds most of the SRV_protocol functions to the HTTP interface, enabling more complete robot control via a standard or mobile web browser. Motor control functions are provided for the existing SRV-1q PWM, the new SRV-4WD controller, as well as RC ESC controllers such as Sabertooth and pan/tilt servo interfaces.

Camera resolution and JPEG quality can now be set via HTTP. Also supported are the SRV-NAV gps, a/d, tilt and compass interfaces, generic I2C devices, SRV-1 vision processing functions, and laser pointer controls.

Using the SRV-1 HTTP interface is really simple. To test these, you can point your browser to
where ____ represents the SRV_protocol function, e.g.
will display the firmware version string

As before,
will capture a new JPEG frame. We have also provided a simple webcam script using this capability.

Surveyor Robot Forum discussion with additional details is found here - Example code for a simple webcam interface is provided.

The new firmware has been posted to

Posted Tue, 09 Feb 2010 14:27 | HTML Link | see additional stories ...

Thu, 28 Jan 2010

RoboPatriots humanoid soccer players for RoboCup using Surveyor SVS Blackfin -

The Autonomous Robotics Laboratory of George Mason University has fielded a team, RoboPatriots, for the RoboCup humanoid league, a prestigious international autonomous robotic soccer competition. RoboPatriots is one of only two teams from the USA that competed in the RoboCup humanoid league in 2009 (of 24 teams overall). The team is small and has never received any outside funding, so one of their goals is to present an inexpensive and robust robot platform that still competes well. In comparison, their competitor's robots generally cost 4-5 times as much.

As the team prepares for next year's competition in Singapore, they are developing tools for humanoid motion and path planning, vision-based localization, and multiple-robot coordination, as well as physical simulation software. The Surveyor SVS (stereo vision system) has proven to be a critical part of their robot architecture, acting as the brains and eyes of the robots.

2010 Robot Specs:
  • Team Name: RoboPatriots (Johnny 5, Newton, and Stephanie)
  • Height: 53 cm
  • Weight: 900 grams
  • DOF: 18 (5 DOF per leg, 3 DOF per arm, 2 DOF neck)
  • Motors: Arms and Legs (16): Kondo KRS-2555HV digital servos
  • Motors: Neck (2): Kondo KRS-788HV ICS Digital Servos
  • Computing Unit: RCB-4 from Kondo
  • Camera: Surveyor SVS stereo vision system, 640x480 resolution per camera, two 500 MHz Blackfin processors
  • Sensors: (1) RAS-2 dual-axis accelerometer from Kondo (2) KRG-3 single axis gyro from Kondo
  • Walking Speed: 25 cm/s

Posted Thu, 28 Jan 2010 14:40 | HTML Link | see additional stories ...

Mon, 18 Jan 2010

Inertia Labs introduces Renegade SRV all-terrain robot -

Our manufacturing partner Inertia Labs has just introduced an up-scale version of the original SRV-1 Blackfin robot, intended for larger payloads and outdoor operation, but still based on SRV-1 Blackfin and SVS control electronics. The Renegade SRV employs four high-quality planetary gear motors with encoders to directly drive the five inch rock crawling wheels. The chassis is laser cut and bent .125" 6061 aircraft aluminum with an ABS impact plastic lid. Surveyor has designed a custom speed controller for this chassis that also takes the input from each motor encoder and direct support for Sharp IR range sensors.

Technical details and order information are found here - Renegade SRV.

Posted Mon, 18 Jan 2010 17:25 | HTML Link | see additional stories ...