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STMicroelectronics partners with Asratec to demonstrate humanoid robot

Chipmaker STMicroelectronics and robotics company Asratec have partnered to develop and demonstrate a humanoid robot at a recent industry event in Japan. 

The companies say the development is in recognition of the observation that the internet of things is becoming a part of people’s lives.

This means that network-connected embedded systems – such as robots – “are growing more important than ever”. 

STMicroelectronics, a global semiconductor company which offers products across the spectrum of electronics applications, is showcasing its latest solutions for embedded systems.

The robot demo is composed of a range of STMicroelectronics products, and is ongoing at the Embedded Technology 2017 event.

Industrial and domestic robots are highly integrated embedded systems that incorporate many kinds of semiconductors for their computing power, real-time response, and sensing precision.

STMicroelectronics, which claims to provide a complete product portfolio for robotics applications, says the robot is capable of a wide range of functions.

The functions and abilities include:

  • measuring distances from obstacles and detect gestures for stopping;
  • changing directions;
  • extending or retracting its arm;
  • detecting changes in temperature and atmospheric pressure;
  • transmitting data;
  • can be operated by external devices through a wireless connection; and
  • project images on a screen.

ST has developed the robot in cooperation with Asratec Corp., a leading robotic control systems company, using the Robotis OP2 open platform from Robotis.

The robot integrates 29 STMicroelectronics products. They include:

  • an STM32 microcontroller;
  • motion sensors and e-compass for posture detection;
  • Time-of-Flight ranging sensors for distance and gesture detection;
  • environmental sensors including pressure and temperature sensors;
  • a microelectromechanical systems micro-mirror;
  • MEMS microphones; and
  • a Bluetooth low energy network processor to communicate with external devices.

The robot’s complex motions are controlled by Asratec’s robot controller board “V-Sido Connect” with an STM32 inside.

Through this demo, ST will highlight its comprehensive solutions, featuring high-performance and easy-to-use products, to diverse types of robotic applications in industry, healthcare, and education.

Along with the Cloud, which consolidates and processes information, IoT employs edge computing to distribute processing functions to locations close to the data-collection points and reduce network loads while making efficient use of communication bandwidth.

At ET2017, ST will showcase a demo that “sees” a four-digit number with high precision and in real time.

The demo comprises an STM32 with Artificial Intelligence and a camera module.

The technology makes inferences based on inputs including images, sound, or signals from sensors, and is expected to be applied in edge devices that perform the autonomous assessment and condition prediction.

In addition, ST will showcase its STM32H7 series, which boasts the highest-ever performance for an Arm Cortex-M based MCU, along with new MCUs for wearable devices.

Diverse and advanced sensing technologies are needed in the IoT devices to collect and process information.

ST will show a smart-industry demo, developed in cooperation with Nidec, that uses high-precision accelerometers to monitor motor vibrations.

This technology will help create new industrial applications and services such as proactive maintenance for plant facilities and infrastructure.

Visitors to the ST booth can also see ST’s newest pressure sensor.

This smallest-in-class (3.3 x 3.3 mm) device seals its sensor elements and ASIC in a special gel to achieve 10bar water resistance, making it suitable for wearable devices and terminals in outdoor facilities that are frequently exposed to water.

STMicroelectronics’ connectivity technologies are also be showcased at the event.

ST offers devices for different communication distances and data transmission rates, as these are key to the growing proliferation of the IoT, and LPWA (Low Power Wide Area) technologies such as Sigfox and LoRa.

ST is demonstrating data transmissions using a Sub-GHz RF IC for Sigfox, and will also demonstrate a development board for LoRa, incorporating a Murata RF module that aggregates an STM32 and an RF IC from Semtech Corporation.

This development board has completed verification of connection to the services of SoraCom, a Japanese telecommunications operator. For short-distance communications, ST will showcase a smart-lock demo for Automotive and Home that combines a Bluetooth low energy integrated circuit with Near Field Communication reader / writers.

Motor-driver ICs characterized by high precision and outstanding real-time capabilities are vital for controlling motors of varied sizes inside IoT devices.

At the show ST will use a System-in-Package device to demonstrate the operation of a drone through high-precision vector control of its propeller motors.

This all-in-one SiP from ST integrates an Arm Cortex-M0 MCU, a DC / DC converter, an op amp, a comparator, a gate driver, and other components in a 7x7mm package.

The numerous embedded systems that make up the IoT are subject to the threat of cyber-attacks, including falsification, spoofing, data theft, and device misuse, making security technologies key to compensate for network vulnerabilities.

ST will conduct a demo of host-terminal certification for short-distance wireless communication, using a development board with Bluetooth low energy ICs and a secure MCU with Common Criteria EAL5+ certification, the industry’s highest-level security certification.

ST is also showcasing its highly versatile TPM (Trusted Platform Module) solutions that strengthen the security of embedded systems.

The ST booth at ET2017 features a zone that offers engineers hands-on experience with the STM32 Open Development Environment, using STM32 Nucleo and X-Nucleo boards equipped with a Bluetooth low energy network processor, motor drivers for brushless/brush/stepper motors, NFC tags, motion sensors, environmental and ToF sensors.

For each application, visitors will be able to run a sample program that uses an integrated development environment.

ST boards and demos displayed at the show also include ToF ranging sensors, touch-screen controllers, USB PD controllers, wireless-charger ICs, digital power supply ICs, NFC tags, and other technologies.

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