Anyone trying to make their own robot from scratch has 2 real options: an microcontroller like the Arduino, or a PC-on-a-board like the Raspberry Pi. The limitation with the Arduino is the 8-bit code you upload can’t really handle complex programming, like image and sound manipulation. The Raspberry Pi can handle this easily, but it has trouble controlling multiple motors, servos and other robotics components with the simplicity of an Arduino.
Alphalem appear to have solved the problem with Rex. Rex is like a super love-child of an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi. Featuring a 32-bit 1GHz processor and 512 MB RAM with dedicated camera and audio ports, a microSD card slot, and connections to components via standard female headers and I2C connectors, it’s definitely not short on features.
The Rex runs on the specially developed Alphalem OS, which has been created to run robotics projects with ease. It’s core is an IDE for programming and running tasks (similar to Arduino sketches). Tasks can be ran in parallel, allowing multithreaded scripts to read sensor data and control movement. It also contains drivers for common robotics components that have been selected by Alphalem, and scripts and programs to get simple projects up and running quickly.
The idea started when Kartik and Mike were at university, and wanted to develop a drone for taking pictures of yourself without having to hold the camera. It would make taking pictures of yourself much more easier and more flattering than the “selfie”, if you were travelling alone, for example. They soon found that this would be too difficult to acheive on their course a lack of time, money and a simple way to control the components, and the idea of Rex was born.
Rex is a Kickstarter campaign, and Alphalem is looking for $90,000 to complete the project. By supporting them for $99 you can get your own Rex board. If you’re into robotics (or just starting out), then Rex might just be the best board to base your next project on.