Eureka has posted a story about Timbot, an OHSU OGI School of Science and
Engineering project. Timbot is an
autonomous robot based on an R/C Monster Truck chassis. Running RTAI Linux,
the robot sports a variety of sensors including a CCD imager and sonar.
The platform was designed to allow the development of high-reliability
embedded control software as part of DARPA's Project
Timber. There is a paper available on the website entitled Composed,
and in Control that described the approach to real-time robot
control being used.
In general, if you want lots of processing power, the pc104 board is a
great, small, standard system that can be of great use to robot
designers. For those who have not come across them before, pc104 boards
are complete pcs on a small (about 4 by 4 inches) board - including cpu,
memory, disk-on-chip (for storage), parallel ports, serial ports, usb,
vga, lcd controller, sound, pcmcia and a host of other options (depends
on the board). Some of these can have current draws of under 1Amp.
Furthermore, because they are standard pcs, they can run standard linux
(or windows, if you wish...). Many also have ide so you could hook up a
hard drive or cd drive if you really wanted to.
Just to be even more flexible, the boards stack using a standardised
socket (based on ISA) and there are hundreds of different cards - from
gps to video capture cards.