Robotic Motor Controller

ASIC Success Story


Long before self-driving cars became the talk of the town, people were already employing small autonomous vehicles in their own homes to do their vacuuming.  

Conceptually, robotic vacuums were first introduced as science fiction by famed author Robert A. Heinlein in the mid-20th century.  

Robotic vacuums efficiently clean floors with little intervention by sensing their environment with active floorplan mapping, controlling motors, learning through mistakes, and automatically returning to a charging station.  

CSS partnered with a leading supplier of robotic vacuums to create an ASIC that handled sensor interface and motor drive.

Robotic floor vacuum.
Layout image of robotic motor controller chip.

Custom Solution from CSS

This ASIC collects and processes signals from several external sensors and sends the information to the central microprocessor.  The incoming sensor signals are amplified through the analog front-end, filtered, and then measured with an internal ADC.

Using feedback from the MCU, the ASIC controls and drives 5 external motors (4 bidirectional motors and 1 unidirectional motor). The ASIC also provides a watchdog timer to shut down the motors if the connection to the microprocessor is lost.

Finally, this custom ASIC has excellent ESD performance and the complete electrical system passed an infamous “cattle prod” test.

Key Features

  • SPI communication
  • 10-bit SAR ADC
  • 10 programable gain amplifiers for photodetector signals
  • 1 programable amplifier and programable filter for debris detection
  • 5 Motor controllers with programable gain current sensors
  • A watch dog timer
  • The ASIC is very ESD tolerant because of the large voltages that can develop on a vacuum from static electricity
  • Temperature Range = 0°C to +70°C
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