E-Puck Open Source Hardware

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The e-puck

The e-puck is a small (7 cm) differential wheeled mobile robot. It was originally designed for micro-engineering education by Michael Bonani and Francesco Mondada at the ASL laboratory of Prof. Roland Siegwart at EPFL (Lausanne, Switzerland). The e-puck is open hardware and its onboard software is open-source, and is built and sold by several companies.

Technical details

  • Diameter: 70 mm
  • Height: 50 mm
  • Weight: 200 g
  • Max speed: 13 cm/s
  • Autonomy: 2 hours moving
  • dsPIC 30 CPU @ 30 MHz (15 MIPS)
  • 8 KB RAM
  • 144 KB Flash
  • 2 step motors
  • 8 infrared proximity and light (TCRT1000)
  • color camera, 640×480
  • 8 LEDs in ring + one body LED + one front LED
  • 3D accelerometers
  • 3 microphones
  • 1 loudspeaker


New modules can be stacked on top of the e-puck; the following extensions are available:

  • A turret that simulates 1D omnidirectional vision, to study optic flow,
  • Ground sensors, for instance to follow a line,
  • Color LED turret, for color-based communication,
  • ZigBee communication,
  • 2D omnidirectional vision,
  • Magnetic wheels, for vertical climbing,
  • Pi-puck extension board, for interfacing with a Raspberry Pi single-board computer.

Scientific use

Since the e-puck is open hardware, its price is lower than competitors. This is leading to a rapid adoption by the scientific community in research despite the original educational orientation of the robot. The e-puck has been used in collective robotics, evolutionary robotics, and art-oriented robotics permanent dead link .

Mobile robots have the potential to become the ideal tool to teach a broad range of engineering disciplines. Indeed, mobile robots are getting increasingly complex and accessible. They embed elements from diverse fields such as mechanics, digital electronics, automatic control, signal processing, embedded programming, and energy management. Moreover, they are attractive for students which increases their motivation to learn.

e-puck open source Hardware
e-puck open source Hardware

However, the requirements of an effective education tool bring new constraints to robotics. This article presents the e-puck robot design, which specifically targets engineering education at university level. Thanks to its particular design, the e-puck can be used in a large spectrum of teaching activities, not strictly related to robotics. Through a systematic evaluation by the students, we show that the epuck fits this purpose and is appreciated by 90 percent of a large sample of students.

Mobile robots are both fascinating objects and the result of the fusion of multiple competences. This fascination leads to the organization of plenty of robotics contests worldwide annually. From an engineering point of view, the design and control of mobile robots requires skills in many disciplines such as mechanics, electronics, energy management, computer science, signal processing, and automatic control. 

This paper presents, for the first time, the design approach resulting in the e-puck1 , an educational desktop mobile robot developed at the Ecole Polytechnique F ´ ed´ erale ´ de Lausanne (EPFL) for a broad exploitation in teaching activities. 

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