Erlang & Robotics

Ulf Wiger <>
Sun Mar 9 19:53:43 CET 2003

On Sun, 9 Mar 2003, david wallin wrote:

>I've been interested in doing something with robotics, and
>would hate to give up on Erlang because of that. I know
>there's been others who has shared this interest in the
>past and hoped to make the Erlang runtime small enough for
>the processors (+memory) found in these devices (in the
>affordable segment of the market. Think Lego Mindstorms).

I've figured that the Erlang programming model would be
ideal for robotics programming.

>Did anyone succeed in doing this ? Could Erlang be 'pruned'
>of some of it's features to make this happen (Erlang
>Lite?), and in that case, what would that be ?
>Another fundamentally different approach would be "Erlang
>Mindstorms":  A programmable brick using the almost
>existing Erlang processor combined with Bluetooth. This
>would be extremely exciting stuff, unfortunately, I fear
>this won't be realized. (Feel free to prove me wrong).

The Erlang Processor was certainly aimed at environments
similar to this: where you'd need a dirt cheap, low-power(*)
chip with a very lightweight "device OS" (like the Erlang
kernel). Another plus should be the garbage collection
design, which relied on sub-instructions to
increment/decrement references, and where the actual release
of garbage didn't steal CPU cycles from the application
(i.e. no GC freezes).


(*) The Erlang Process used about 30x fewer machine
instructions than BEAM to run an average Erlang program.
This can be used either to speed up execution, or to build
simpler (=cheaper) chips.
Ulf Wiger, Senior Specialist,
   / / /   Architecture & Design of Carrier-Class Software
  / / /    Strategic Product & System Management
 / / /     Ericsson AB, Connectivity and Control Nodes

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