Seeking Guidance on Selecting Microcontrollers for a Robotics Project

Hello jamesbolt,

Please allow me second @rick_1976 comments about microcontrollers.

You asked about trends, that’s a challenging question as the options are simultaneously expanding in all directions. Many people focus on the top of the line 32-bit devices with multiple cores and the ability to run Zephyr or even Linux.

Fair enough.

Yet at the same time the performance of even the most miniscule microcontroller is improving. For application that low cost and battery powered it’s hard to beat an 8-bit micro. Personally, I don’t see these devices going away in my lifetime.

Abstraction to save time and reduce complexity is an important part of this movement.

You mentioned the education location in the DigiKey forum. By chance did you see this article regarding PID control using a servomotor. While the featured device does not directly fall into the “robotics” bin, it is close. The article and supporting pieces lay the ground word for an Arduino microcontroller, real time operating system considerations, and motor control.

Finally, you mentioned sensors and actuators. I’m wondering if your project may be better suited using industrial and automation components. A Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) may be a better fit as it was designed to operate as part of a larger ecosystem of sensors and actuators. You could think of the PLC as a hardened microcontroller where all of the protection and electrical interfaces are prebuilt.

Kindly tell us more about your project so that we can provide improved alternatives.