Sundance: VCS-1 embedded processor module for precision robotics applications

Sundance Multiprocessor Technology has launched the Sundance VCS-1, a small, high performance, low power and lightweight embedded processor platform designed specifically for precision robotics incorporating complex, real-time vision, control and sensor applications. Utilizing the PC/104 form factor, which measures just 90 x 96mm, to provide industry-standard compatibility and expandability, the Sundance VCS-1 embedded processor module is optimized for computer vision, Edge AI and Deep Learning requirements. It weighs just 300g, has a low power consumption of typically 15W and is highly compatible with a wide range of commercially available sensors and actuators.

At the processing heart of the Sundance VCS-1 is a Xilinx Zynq MPSoC which is mounted on to the PC/104 board using a System-on-Module. It incorporates an ARM Cortex A53 64-bit quad-core processor combining real-time control through engines for graphics, video, waveform, and acceleration with an FPGA. These include an ARM Mali 400 graphics processing unit (GPU) for graphics acceleration, an ARM Cortex R5 Real-Time Processing Unit (RPU) for managing real-time events and the programmable FPGA logic for hardware acceleration of AI algorithms used for on-the-fly image processing.

The Sundance VCS-1 features extensive I/O capabilities made available through the Sundance External Interface Card (SEIC), including multiple USB3 interfaces for interfacing various cameras and sensors such as the Intel RealSense T265 tracking camera, Intel RealSense D435 and Stereo Labs Zed depth cameras and FLIR AX-8 thermal camera. It can also connect with most Arduino and Raspberry Pi actuators and sensors. A further interface enables it to mimic PC with HDMI display, SATA storage and Ethernet networking. An onboard ADC is available to gather data from an external sensor and there is an onboard DAC to control servos etc. A large selection of I/O standards is also implemented directly on the programmable logic to reduce the latency between the various supported cameras, sensors and servos.

Extensive software support is provided for precision robotics solutions including the ROS Melodic Morenia (ROS compatible and ROS2 ready) robotics platform, MQTT machine-to-machine connectivity protocol, OpenCV computer vision library of real-time programming functions, the Xilinx’s Edge-AI solutions and the Python scripting language. Also supported are the Ubuntu operating system, Xilinx SDSoC environment, TULIPP’s STHEM toolchain and Xilinx DPU (deep learning processing unit) for convolutional neural networks. The Sundance VCS-1 is available in a custom enclosure, the PC/104-Blade, designed to remove the need for any fans and provide a rugged environment for building embedded applications for resilient precision robotics.

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