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LinuxWorld.com.au: Linux-Powered Robots

“During the week of Monday 28 August to Sunday 3 September,
Melbourne hosted RoboCup 2000, the 4th World Robot Soccer
Championships and Workshop. The event was held at the Melbourne
Exhibition Centre in conjunction with the Sixth Pacific Rim
International Conference on Artificial Intelligence.”

“n line with the technological push that the teams represent,
Linux was often the operating system of choice for controlling the
robots. The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
(www.rmit.edu.au) team, called RMIT United, made extensive use of
Linux, which gave them better functionality. “We use a lot of Java
code, I think about 30,000 lines, but there is some C++ for
interfacing with the vision system,” said James Brusey of RMIT
United. “We had previously used Windows because we were unable to
get Linux drivers for the Logitech QuickCam VC. We have a different
camera and a completely different vision system now, so we were
able to port to Linux.” The RMIT United team was using Red Hat
Linux 6.2.”

“The transition from Windows to Linux was easy for the team and
the only code changes involved renaming the serial ports. The team
also used RXTX (www.rxtx.org) for serial communications.
Performance increased markedly in comparison to the Java
Communications API under Windows. “We tested with a logic
analyser on the serial port and found that the time between
communications packets was about 180ms under Windows, whereas under
Linux it came down to 8 – 20ms,” said Brusey. Given the complexity
of the robot’s operations, a speed increase of 900 per cent will
always translate to better overall performance.

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