Application-specific sensors, e.g. those which are integrated into the robot tool, need to be extremely compact und often require real-time preprocessing of raw data, as well as a noise-resistant digital interface. For this purpose, we have developed an EtherCAT Master on an RT-Linux system and EtherCAT Slave modules based on FPGA technology. This enables Sensors, servo amplifiers and absolute encoders to communicate with the main controller at a rate of 8 kHz over a distance of 50m.
We typically use 8 oder 32 bit Atmes processors for the PCBs we design in-house. Larger autonomous systems based on intel processors mostly run RT-Linux or VxWorks.