Data acquisition

Data-acquisition hardware on board of the Robocom robot is based on PCBricks. These are small, custom-built x86 PC modules, fitted with mini-ITX motherboards. For Rawseeds, three of them were mounted on the robot, interconnected through a TCP/IP network (also equipped with a wireless link to connect to remote machines).

Operating system of Rawseeds’ PCBricks is Linux, heavily customized to optimize dataflow to the hard disks: in fact, the datastream produced by Rawseeds’ sensors is massive (tens of MB/s), and dropouts can occur even when not using low-power CPUs (as in the PCBricks) and 2.5″ disks (as in the PCBricks).
Initial data loss problems due to mechanical shocks and vibrations were solved by exchanging the data-storage units with Solid State Disks. In fact, shocks and vibrations experienced by the mobile robot while exploring an environment could lead magnetic disks into protection mode for brief instants, thus heavily degrading their data-transfer performances for a time long enough to force sensor data loss.