Contact the author at email@example.com by David Geer
Modular Cooperating Robot Components
Linkbot Parts, Technologies,
and Proprietary Capabilities
Linkbot is a modular robotics platform that consists of
like components you can connect or link together to form
higher order robots. The components come with a number
of built-in capabilities, including a 802.15.4-compliant
ZigBee-capable wireless radio transceiver operating in the
2. 4 GHz band. Roboticists can use this to communicate
wirelessly, create mesh networks, and control and monitor
Linkbots remotely. Linkbots also include a rechargeable
lithium-ion battery good for three hours of run time; a
three-axis accelerometer for detecting free falls, bumps,
and tilt angles; absolute encoding; compatibility with
Arduinos; and ease of hacking.
As mentioned, the Linkbot’s internal chip is Arduino-compatible (the Leonardo). The ATmega128RFA1 by Atmel
runs at 16 MHz. This integrates with an eight-bit AVR
microcontroller. Builders can re-Flash with their own
firmware using the onboard boot loader.
There are also Arduino-compatible breakout boards
and accessory boards that are available, so users can add
sensors or add the Linkbot into their existing projects.
Expansion boards plug into the robot, enabling the
roboticist to connect several devices such as IR proximity
sensors, buttons, and switches, photo detectors, and
You can use a phone cable to connect the Bluetooth-enabled breakout boards or electronics to Linkbot power.
It uses a standard phone jack (you would find at any
hardware store) which has four lines: two power and two
I2C communication. Barobo set it up so a Linkbot outputs
5V on the breakout board, so you can power your
attachments off the built-in lithium-ion battery. Bluetooth
2.0 enables the Linkbots with direct wireless
communication with computers and mobile devices such as
Android phones and tablets.
Linkbot uses Arduino Xbee and accelerometers, as well.
There’s also a buzzer capable of playing multiple notes and
tunes to give audio responses to various inputs. Linkbot’s
BaroboLink Software uses a graphical user interface (GUI)
to run programs, actuate motors, and read sensors. The
robot’s polycarbonate housing is very durable and has
been drop-tested from second story buildings (Barobo does
The Linkbot platform from Barobo, Inc., applies a sort of swarm
robotics to individual modules that can be easily connected,
expanded, programmed, and controlled. The idea is to encourage
young children to become interested in robotics early on to help fill
the gap where interest in robots in education is declining. Read on to
find out what Linkbots are made of, as well as how they work and
what they can do.
10 SERVO 09.2013
Barobo grants roboticists access to all the 3D models
for the accessories, so they can print them out using most
any 3D hobby grade printer. "We want to build a
community where you can download parts, make them
uniquely yours, and upload them to share with other
roboticists. We have created some cool ideas for
accessories but we are only scratching the surface, and we
need your help and genius to further these," says President