Texas Instruments is conducting CES 2012 in its signature understated manner. Meetings with hardware partners and silicon innovation demoes are being held behind closed doors, with the company leaving communication with the end consumer to the device vendors. That's a shame, in our estimation, since TI is developing a whole heap of fascinating concepts behind the scenes, the MAVRK development platform being chief among them. Its name is short for Modular and Versatile Reference Kit, which should tell you much about its purpose as well. MAVRK is built as a prototyping platform for multivariate combinations of TI silicon. Its modular nature means you can strap a wide range of chips — gas gauges for accurate battery readouts, wireless radios, processor-equipped daughterboards — to one motherboard and test how they work in concert.

The demo setup TI came up with was to use two MAVRK boards to control a robot equipped with caterpillar tracks (just like Wall-E, only without the cute anthropomorphic top). One of the modular boards served as the gamepad, with a small analog controller attached to its top left corner and a Wi-Fi chip in its top right. TI says it could just as easily communicate over the ZigBee standard or anything else; its developer team has compatible parts for just about any purpose, and they provide the necessary firmware and schematics to build sophisticated machines out of it all. You'll find the Wall-E emulator in the video below and more info on MAVRK at the source link.