Based on the latest version of NI LabVIEW graphical system design software, the LabVIEW Robotics environment continues to provide industry-grade system design software capabilities. By integrating LabVIEW Robotics with LabVIEW 2010, you automatically benefit from the 20X average run-time performance increase delivered through new compiler technology and optimizations. Computationally intensive algorithms such as navigation, localization, and vision processing are implemented faster, improving the performance of your robot.
Sensor drivers are critical to any autonomous or semiautonomous system and can often consume much of your design time due to the tedious nature for both design and maintenance. To develop LabVIEW Robotics, NI reused many of the efficient and maintainable approaches to robot sensor driver development. New drivers include the following:
- Vishay TEMT6000X01 ambient light sensor
- Maxon motor encoders
- Devantech SRF02 sonar range finder drivers
- Devantech TPA81 thermal sensor drivers
Figure 1. LabVIEW Robotics 2010 delivers a breadth of sensor drivers for easily connecting to any sensor you need, saving you valuable integration and driver development time.
Once your robot can visualize its environment through sensor data, it needs deterministic decision-making algorithms to accomplish a task or behavior. Algorithm design is a focus of LabVIEW Robotics software that can help you design an autonomous system more rapidly. You can use basic algorithms such as A* or Kalman filters as is or open and modify them to best suit your application needs. You can find the following new algorithm refinements and example programs in the product or online:
- Optical character recognition
- Ackermann steering
- A* search on occupancy grid
- Vision-based obstacle avoidance for the LabVIEW Robotics Starter Kit
- Teleoperation mode for the LabVIEW Robotics Starter Kit robot
Figure 2. The robotics community at ni.com/code/robotics houses the latest sensor drivers and examples as well as a forum for sharing code and ideas.
Once your robotic system has made a decision on how to respond to its environment, it needs to communicate with motors or other types of actuators to act. LabVIEW Robotics 2010 includes new actuator drivers, such as the following, that support a variety of locomotion, from ground vehicles to hexapod and humanoid robots:
- Dynamixel smart servo motors
- Lynxmotion SSC-32 servo controller
- Texas Instruments MDL-BDC24 brushed DC motor control module with CAN
NI designed the LabVIEW Robotics community to answer your questions, expose you to helpful reference designs, and provide a place to easily share algorithms and applications with your peers.
This article first appeared in the Q4 2010 issue of Instrumentation Newsletter.