The BeagleBoard.org Foundation has announced the release of its latest single-board computer, the BeagleBone Blue, with a focus on making it as easy as possible to build Linux-powered robots.

The original BeagleBoard single-board computer predates the better-known Raspberry Pi, and the entire BeagleBoard family - including the popular BeagleBone Black - have one major advantage over their fruity competition: they're fully open hardware, allowing anyone to see and tinker with the design in order to build spin-off boards with the features they need. The BeagleBoard Foundation, meanwhile, designs and releases official boards - with the BeagleBoard Blue being the latest.

Designed with robotics projects in mind, the BeagleBone Blue builds on the BeagleBone Black platform but adds features dedicated to motor control and sensing: a battery management circuit supports charging and discharging for self-contained builds; there are dedicated pulse-width and pulse-position modulated (PWM and PPM) outputs for eight 6V servo motor or electronic speed controller (ESC) control as well as four DC motors and inputs for four quadratic encoders; there's a nine-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) and a barometer on-board; four analogue-to-digital converter (ADC) inputs for additional analogue sensors; support for the Controller Area Network (CAN) bus protocol; integrated Wi-Fi connectivity; and the usual BeagleBone features including numerous GPIO ports and both USB host and device ports.

Built around an Octavo Systems OSD3358 system-in-package (SIP) featuring a 1GHz Texas Instruments AM3358 ARM Cortex-A8 processor, 512MB of RAM, and two dedicated 200MHz 32-bit programmable real-time unit (PRU) microcontrollers, the BeagleBone Blue includes a pre-loaded Linux distribution with additional support for Debian, the Robot Operating System (ROS), and the popular Ardupilot autopilot and remote control platform.

The BeagleBone Blue is priced at £76.58 including VAT in the UK, with more information available on the official website.

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