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Brock University
Department of Computer Science

COSC 3P95: Embedded Software

Fall 2013 Instructor: Vlad Wojcik mail.gif (1189 bytes) TA Support: Manas Ghosh
Assignments: Warm-Up Project

darkDot.gif (501 bytes)COURSE OBJECTIVE:

  • 32-bit ARM7 microcontroller
  • 256 kbytes flash,
    64 kbytes RAM
  • 8-bit AVR microcontroller
  • 4 kbytes flash, 512 bytes RAM





To familiarize students with requirements posed by embedded software and issues arising from embedded software application development. Practical skills in handling real-time execution, concurrency, network and device control will be acquired by working on a project within teams of three students. The goal of the project is to develop a robotic application in Ada 2005 running on bare LEGO MINDSTORMS hardware (no operating system of any kind).

darkDot.gif (501 bytes)RATIONALE:

You surely have noticed that over the years the sizes of popular operating systems have grown by leaps and bounds. Windows (courtesy of Microsoft) and Mac OS X (of Apple) come immediately to mind. Consequently, their hardware footprints have grown too, while their reliability has suffered. Their sizes now make them unsuitable to use with robots, PDAs, etc.

Robotic and PDA manufacturers have responded by coming up with nimbler, smaller OS'es: iOS, Android, etc. However: The most intelligent systems we have seen so far are animals (i.e. "Darwin's robots"). They do not appear to run any operating system, but merely one software application (which may be multi-tasked or threaded), seemingly perfectly shrunk-wrapped around their hardware. If one of its less essential tasks / threads dies for whatever reason, then the animal becomes disabled; when a more important task/thread crashes (again for whatever reason, perhaps hardware failure), then the animal dies.

In this offering of COSC 3P95: Embedded Software we will mimic this "unintelligent design" strategy by programming our robots (LEGO MINDSTORMS) using Ravenscar profile, being a subset of Ada 2005, with the intent of running cross-compiled Ada programs on bare robot hardware (i.e. without any OS).

The instructor understands that this approach might induce severe concerns (panic perhaps, or even riots?) among COSC students who may be faithful to Java or other derivatives of C. The instructor would like to point out that with tiny computing resources available on the MINDSTORMS target platform (see table beside) it seems an impractical overkill to install Java Virtual Machine on a MINDSTORMS robot, so that JVM shrink-wraps robot's hardware, while the robotic application is written to shrink-wrap robot's JVM.

To placate these worries it may be useful to point out that a bridge between the Ada and Java words exists, allowing to mix these languages freely by calling Ada from Java or vice-versa.


Ada 2005 (GNAT GPS), courtesy of AdaCore, Inc., hosted on Windows 7 machines.

darkDot.gif (501 bytes)TEXTBOOKS:


darkDot.gif (501 bytes)MARKING SCHEME:

CAUTION: The Department reserves the right to scan submissions using electronic means, in order to ensure the originality of students' work. Teamwork: Attempt of a student to ride on the coattails of his/her teammates may result in mutual peer evaluation.

darkDot.gif (501 bytes)NOTES:

In case a given mark is perceived unjust or unclear by a student, s/he is encouraged to see the instructor to discuss the issue. Depending on the case s/he is able to make, a mark can be modified. The deadline to contact the instructor on these matters is one week after the mark has been issued. Marks not disputed within this period will be considered final.

darkDot.gif (501 bytes)PENALTIES:

Possible lateness in assignment submission is counted in days, each period of a day ending at 4 PM. The penalty for late submission of assignments is 25% up to three days (or a part of a day). After that period the penalty is 100%.

While honest cooperation between students is considered appropriate, the Department considers plagiarism a serious offense. For clarification on these issues you are directed to the statement of Departmental Policies and Procedures.

cameo.gif (1740 bytes)Instructor: Vlad Wojcikmail.gif (1189 bytes)
Revised: Monday, 11 November, 2013 0:10 AM
Copyright 2013 Vlad Wojcik