Arduino is a hardware prototyping platform originally based around Atmel AVR microcontrollers, intended to ease physical computing prototyping. Originally released in 2005 by Massimo Banzi & colleagues at the Italian firm Ivrea Institute, it was inspired by the BASIC Stamp microcontroller by Parallax Inc., allowing hobbyists easier creation of electronically interactive objects. The first boards were produced by two Italian manufacturers, Smart Projects and Piccolo Electronics, before being acquired by SparkFun Electronics. They can interface with many types of sensors such as; thermal, humidity, light, ultrasonic distance, touch, hall, etc.Though the pins of an Arduino cannot provide significant current, they can drive LEDs and control transistors/FETs to control motors and other high current devices.
The Arduino ecosystem includes IDE software, libraries and shields allowing a user to attach functional modular “building block” components to an Arduino to expand its functionality. Arduino boards are widely used due to the ease of entry into the ecosystem. There are many forums and projects which demonstrate seemingly endless possibilities for these boards. A notable use is in robotics where the IDE and libraries help the robot coordinate its actuators with sensors and desired states.