Freescale Semiconductor used the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose this week to announce its Make It Challenge design contest, which asks engineers to build a robot or system design based on the firm’s latest sensor development kit. In other words, a walking robot or a Freescale Tower System.
Especially for the contest, Freescale says it has released a sensor development kit and new Tower Mechatronics Board contestants can use for their designs.
If you’re wondering what the cryptically entitled Tower Mechatronics Board does, fear not, because Freescale has an explanation. Apparently the board “enables designers to write software for a variety of sensor applications,” and “allows users to experiment with acceleration, magnetic, pressure and touch sensors, as well as electromechanical controls for industrial and consumer applications.”
It also combines 32-bit computing, sensors and an actuator control onto a single standalone board with an on-board battery supply. The board, controlled by a 32-bit ColdFire microcontroller with 64K of RAM and 512K of flash, supports the range of Freescale Xtrinsic sensors via plug-in daughter boards.
When used in the Freescale sensor robot, the Tower board is apparently capable of making the robot walk and respond to touch, motion, vibration and other external stimuli.
As for the Freescale robot itself, the mechanical munchkin is a nine-inch tall, four degrees of freedom bipedal walking robot, with a 32-bit ‘brain’ and a three-axis accelerometer for balance.
The contest is set to take place at the Freescale Technology Forum (FTF) June 20-23 in San Antonio, Texas and to be eligible to participate in it, contestants must attend FTF as well as complete an online course and quiz, or one of two training courses offered at the forum.
The Make It Challenge will also purportedly have two tracks; the Mechatronics Robot Track and the Tower System Track, each limited to 100 participants. Participants can apparently register to both tracks. Those selected for the robot track will receive the Freescale robot (FSLBOT) that contains the Tower Mechatronics board (TWR-MECH), as well as FSLBOT code, while those selected for the Tower System Track will receive a Tower System kit containing one controller module selected by the participant.
Contestants in both tracks will have access to the on-site FTF Make It Lab, where they can work on their designs and interact with Freescale technology experts.
Freescale says that contestants must enter their designs by June 22, 2011 at 4 p.m. CDT and are limited to one submission per track. Entries will apparently be judged on application innovation and creativity, as well as integration of different elements of the tool kit.
First place winners of each track will receive $3,000 USD, second place $2,000 USD and third place $1,000 USD with the grand prize winner, selected from the first place track winners, receiving a Freescale Motorsports VIP weekend package for two.
More details of the contest can be found here: www.freescale.com/MakeItChallenge