SpOmnibot (TUM SpiNNaker Robot)

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The Robot

The SpOmnibot is a robotic platform developed by Technische Universität München. You can read more about this in the paper “Real-Time Interface Board for Closed-Loop Robotic Tasks on the SpiNNaker Neural Computing System” (Christian Denk, Francisco Llobet-Blandino, Francesco Galluppi, Luis A. Plana, Steve Furber, Jörg Conradt) in Artificial Neural Networks and Machine Learning ICANN 2013.

Hardware Overview

Robot Features

  • Three omniwheels driven by DC(?) motors
  • Encoders to detect wheel rotation for each motor
  • Multi-point bump-sensor
  • Two silicon retinas
  • SpiNNaker board mount
  • Separate batteries for the robot and for SpiNNaker
  • TODO: and some other things…

Control Systems

The robot is connected to the SpiNNaker board via a spinnaker 2-of-7 asynchronous link connected to the otherwise unused South-west link on chip (0,0).

The robot is controlled by a small SpiNNaker interface board which contains a CPLD and an ARM microcontroller. The CPLD essentially translates between the 2-of-7 signaling used by SpiNNaker and a simple 9-bit binary interface (8 bits of data with extra signals for end-of-packet, req and ack) used by the microcontroller.

The microcontroller communicates with the retinas and the robot’s motor controllers and other sensors via serial connections and exposes these peripherals via a multicast packet interface.

Here is a very crude picture:

SpiNNaker-Facing API

The API for the robot has changed and is now defined in the following google document:


(Alternatively, a copy was made on 22-09-14 in the event that the above link should die: http://pastebin.com/HC5GPs0n)


The robot has two sets of batteries:

  1. Omnibot motors:
    • LiPo charging mode, 2 cells in series 7.4V (2~3 hours).
    • use 2xbanana to “power” plug cable.
    • connect red/black banana plugs in charger output sockets.
    • connect “power” plug to socket next to robot power switch.
  2. SpiNNaker board:
    • LiPo balanced mode, 3 cells in series 11.1V (10~12 hours).
    • use (2xbanana + 4-pin plug) to 6-pin plug cable.
    • connect red/black banana plugs in charger output sockets.
    • connect 4-pin balance plug in 3-cell balance charging socket.
    • connect 6-pin plug to small board on robot, next to large batteries.

Wifi Access Point

The robot’s wifi interface consists of a WiFi access point to which the SpiNNaker board is attached via Ethernet. The network details are as follows:

SSID: NSTrobots1 pass: robospinn

The IP of the SpiNNaker board is The access point will assign your machine an IP in the same network upon connection (172.16.1.x).