A new distributed real-time controller for robotics applications

A description is given of a dual-board real-time distributed control module based on the INMOS T414/T800 transputers. The CPU board provides fast external memory, support for the four 10-MHz serial transputer links including two fiber-optic links, and an I/O expansion connector. The board’s backplane connector is pin-compatible with the INMOS ITEM development system. The plug-in I/O board provides a bidirectional latched 32-bit I/O bus with full handshaking support. Half of this board is allotted to a wire-wrap prototyping area allowing for customization to specific I/O needs. It is asserted that an easily configurable network built from this low-cost modular design should be able to tackle the most demanding real-time control applications, with respect to computation as well as I/O requirements. A description is given of two particular applications presently underway in the Yale Robotics Laboratory.