Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Miniaturized wireless communication module for micro robots

Result description: In task 2.5 partner Fraunhofer-IBMT has developed a miniaturized wireless communication module for bi-directional communication with micro robots. The module for wireless communication consists of two sub-components: the micro robot transceiver and the external communication transceiver.

The communication system between individual robots and the host was developed as a single-master multi-slave topology. Robots act as slaves to the host (master). For maximum mobility, wireless communication with infrared (IR) transmissions is used. The implemented protocol is modelled on the physical IrDA layer in order to achieve a robust data link. Featured data rates range from 9.6kbit/s (SIR) over 1.152Mbit/s (MIR) up to 4Mbit/s (FIR) for flexibility in bandwidth and power consumption. Additionally, a low power mode derived from the SIR protocol is implemented. CRC sums of 16bits for SIR and MIR, and 32bits for FIR guarantee data integrity. The receiver circuits can adapt to frequency deviations of up to 5% in all IR modes. The infrared communication implies that every data packet is received by all robots of the cluster. To address only one single robot, unique identification numbers (ID) are (dynamically) assigned to the robots. Data packets containing an ID are interpreted by the corresponding robot only.

The micro robot transceiver is located at the robot. This on-board communication sub-system includes an ASIC module integrated with the ASIC chip of the robot electronics and a commercial IR-transceiver. The developed on-board communication sub-system fulfils all requirements. It has especially been designed for extremely low power consumption and for low size. The external communication transceiver can exchange IR-signals with the robots like described above. Additionally, the external communication transceiver has a wired USB2.0 link to a computer. A software driver has been complied under Linux system to provide a software interface for the upper level user interface. The full functionality of the communication has been tested using emulated robot electronics. The performed tests proofed a successful communication with the robot prototype on the power floor.

Dissemination and use potential:
Four papers covering communication aspects of MICRON-research have been presented during scientific conferences:

NIERLICH, M., STEINMETZ, O.: "Manipulating Biological Cells with a Micro-Robot Cluster". IROS 2005

NIERLICH, M., STEINMETZ, O.: "A Monolithic Control Circuit for a 1cm3 Microrobot for Biological Experiments". Asian Solid-State Circuits Conference, IEEE A-SSCC, 2005

NIERLICH, M., STEINMETZ, O.: "An integrated Controller for a Flexible and Wireless Atomic Force Microscopy". Proc. SPIE 2005 - Microtechnologies for the New Millennium 2005

CASANOVA, R., LACORT, DIEGEUEZ, J., ARBAT, A., PUIG,M., SAMITIER, J.,NIERLICH, M., STEINMETZ, O., SCHOLZ, O.: "A Specific Integrated Controller for Nanomicroscopy and Cellular Manipulation".
Oral presentation at Annual Conference of the IEEE International Society of Circuits and Sensors (ISCAS), Kobe (Japan), 23.-26.05.2005

Key innovative features:
Commercially available hardware components have been used for the transceiver module. The key innovation is the development of an ASIC which contains the digital part of the transceiver module electronics. The transceiver module has been designed to be low power consuming and to require low space. Thus, it is well suited for applications with autonomous micro robots. Additionally, an USB2.0 interface to a computer has been implemented for the developed external communication transceiver. This allows a simple use of a PCs standard USB port to exchange data between PC and external transceiver unit at high speed.

It is anticipated that the developed communication system can also been used for medical applications. Because of its small size and low power consumption (due to the dedicated ASIC) it seems to be well suited for the wireless communication between medical implants and an external control unit. The human skin is well known to be partly transparent for infrared light. A transcutaneous infrared communication is possible if the medical implant is not implanted too deep inside the tissue.

Current status and use of the result:
At the moment the developed wireless communication module is used for communication between micro robots and an external control unit (master slave configuration).

Expected benefit:
It is envisaged to use the wireless communication module to wirelessly transmit data between a control unit and industrial micro robots if such robots are available in the future. Maybe it is also possible to use this system for wireless communication with active medical implants.

Related information

Reported by

Fraunhofer-Institute for Biomedical Engineering
Ensheimer strasse 48
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