Qualcomm launches new RB3 platform to transform the robotics industry and help developers
Late last year, we wrote about Qualcomm when the company announced the launch of it Snapdragon 855, the world’s first commercial mobile platform for 5G, AI and immersive Extended Reality (XR). Today, Qualcomm, one of the world’s largest chip makers for smart phone and other devices, unveiled a new robotics platform called, RB3. The new embedded wireless connectivity platform provides communication with outside world for robots and drones. RB3 was designed to help manufacturers and developers create a new wave of innovative, smart, power-efficient consumer, enterprise, and industrial robots. Qualcomm Robotics RB3 Platform is the company’s first integrated, comprehensive offering designed specifically for robotics.
Building on Qualcomm Technologies’ success in robotics and drone products available today, this purpose-built platform features ahighly optimized set of hardware, software and tools designed to help manufacturers and developers create the next generation of advanced consumer, enterprise and industrial robotics products. Based on the Qualcomm® SDA/SDM845 system-on-chip (SoC), the platform integrates key capabilities such as high-performance heterogeneous computing, 4G/LTE connectivity including CBRS support for private LTE networks, a Qualcomm® AI Engine for on-device machine learning and computer vision, hi-fidelity sensor processing for perception, odometry for localization, mapping, and navigation, vault-like security, and Wi-Fi connectivity. The Qualcomm Robotics RB3 Platform also plans to introduce 5G connectivity support later this year to further enable low-latency and high-throughput industrial robotics applications.
“Our technologies are at the heart of a wide array of robotics products available today, from companion robots including Anki Vector, Elli Q and Sony Aibo, to multimedia robots like Cerevo Tripon and Keecker, to labor-saving machines such as robotic vacuum cleaners from iRobot, Ecovacs and Panasonic,” said Dev Singh, director of business development and head of autonomous robotics, drones and intelligent machines at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “With the Qualcomm Robotics RB3 Platform, we aim to bring our cutting-edge AI, edge compute and connectivity technologies into the hands of many more robotics innovators to help spur the fast development and commercialization of a new generation of useful and intelligent robots in agriculture, consumer, delivery, inspection, service, smart manufacturing/Industry 4.0, warehousing and logistics, and other applications.”
The Qualcomm Robotics RB3 Platform is designed to allow for flexible design options for development and commercialization, from development board offerings for prototyping, to off-the-shelf system-on-module solutions for faster commercialization, to the flexibility for chip-on-board designs for cost optimization at scale. The platform currently supports Linux and Robot Operating System (ROS), while also including support for the Qualcomm® Neural Processing software development kit (SDK) for advanced on-device AI, the Qualcomm® Computer Vision Suite, the Qualcomm® Hexagon™ DSP SDK, and Amazon’s AWS RoboMaker, with plans for Ubuntu Linux support.
The platform’s hardware development kit contains the new purpose-built robotics-focused DragonBoard™ 845c development board, based on the Qualcomm SDA/SDM845 SoC and compliant with the 96Boards open hardware specification to support a broad range of mezzanine-board expansions. Optional elements for the kit include a connectivity board; an image camera for superb hi-res photo, 4K video capture and AI-assisted detection and recognition of people and objects; a tracking camera for path planning and obstacle avoidance using visual simultaneous localization and mapping (vSLAM); a stereo camera for navigation; and a time-of-flight camera for people, gesture and object detection even in low light conditions.