I thought it would be interesting to build a list of all the smart/serial servo manufacturers. While picking a reliable vendor is always suggested, there are many options these days…
So here’s the ones I’ve managed to find:
Robotis/Dynamixel. High quality, known brand. What more to say? Use a half-duplex UART.
Entry level model: AX-12A
Torque: 15.3 kg·cm
Dongbu/Herkulex. Also a fairly established brand. These are nice because they use a full duplex UART, so can be connected to any old microcontroller with nothing special needed. When I used these a couple years back they did pretty nicely.
Entry level model: DRS-0101
Makeblock. I couldn’t find any details on the protocol for these servos, just an arduino library. These seem to have position feedback over the full 360 degree rotation range, and use a full duplex UART.
Entry level model: MS-12A
LewanSoul/Lobot/LX-??/LDX-??.There are a range of them available for quite cheap prices from aliexpress and banggood. I have no idea who the manufacturer actually is, but Aliexpress has many of these servos including in kitset quadrupedal and hexapedal robot chassis, so someone somewhere is using lots of them. The protocol is the dynamixel protocol with the first byte changed from 0xFF to 0x55! Considering these are cheaper than most regular RC servos I may have to buy a couple to test.
Entry level model: LX-16A
Feetech. Another china brand. They seem to make a whole range including both their own form factors and clones of dynamixel casings. The range includes micro-servos. The one listed below is a normal hobby “9g” servo with a UART interface. Only one of the smart servos is available on their main webpage, but are available on their aliexpress store. It seems many of their hobby-RC-range are actually “hidden” smart servos as they sell a programming board for them.
Entry level model: SCS0009