Tag Archives: autonomous navigation

Inforce 6501 Micro SOM Beats Five Other Vendor Products in a Bake-off

NASA Astrobee free-flying robot
Figure-1: NASA’s Astrobee free-flying robot headed for the ISS in 2017.

Designing a next generation free-flying autonomous robot [see Figure 1], scheduled to be deployed on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2017, is no trivial task. The NASA Astrobee will serve as a robotic assistant to offload routine, repetitive, but long-duration and CPU-intensive tasks [2] and replace a legacy and older free-flying robot.

Challenges in building the Astrobee avionics

NASA Astrobee Avionics bd
Figure-2: The Astrobee’s avionics block diagram showing the three compute modules.

The Astrobee has subsystems for structure, propulsion, power, guidance, navigation and control (GN&C), command and data handling (C&DH), thermal control, communications, docking mechanism, and a perching arm [4]. As seen in the block diagram in Figure-2 [2], the avionics provides computation and communication resources for the Astrobee. The three compute platforms are the low- [LLP], mid- [MLP], and high-level-processor [HLP], which are configured to perform specific functions.

The bake-off to pick the right compute platform Continue reading Inforce 6501 Micro SOM Beats Five Other Vendor Products in a Bake-off

Commercial Drones: Where’re the Viable Use-cases and Core Technologies to Differentiate in a Crowded Marketplace?

Last week’s panel discussion at the Churchill Club titled “Civilian Drones: The Opportunity Takes Flight” touched varied topics from open Inforce 6410Plus Dronesource autopilot designs (such as the Pixhawk PX4) that have democratized access to technologies, to auto-navigation and collision avoidance, increasing battery life and payload weight, FAA regulations, and everything in between. The past year has indeed seen frenzied activity in the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) or drone space. Several use cases have taken shape, but how many of them are going to be commercially viable and sustainable in the long run? Businesses and large corporations are actively looking to use drones to monitor their assets, infrastructure, and operations. Start-ups in this space are trying to carve a niche by differentiating with unique underlying technologies such as collision avoidance and auto-navigation, which seek to unlock the potential for new use-cases. New services that offer businesses and corporate entities instant access to professional “drone pilots” with their fleet of UAVs for hire, provide imagery and data collection for a fee. Here are a few quick takeaways from the discussions. Continue reading Commercial Drones: Where’re the Viable Use-cases and Core Technologies to Differentiate in a Crowded Marketplace?

Heading to the DARPA Robotics Challenge this week? Check out OSRF’s Turtlebot powered by the Inforce 6410 SBC!

Several robots will face off at the upcoming DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) finals in Pomona, Calif., June 5-6, 2015. So, what’s at stake, you might ask. How about a cool $3.5 Mil. in prizes? The winner grabs a sweet $2MM, the runner-up $1MM, and the third place gets $500K–that’s no chump change! This challenge involves navigating a difficult simulated disaster-response course and 24 of the world’s top robotics teams are competing. The course will obviously not be easy–with degraded communication hampering the robot operators, arduous and successive physical tasks include driving a utility vehicle, stepping out and opening doors, locating and closing valves, cutting through walls, clearing debris, and walking up stairs. Here’s a cool video from the WPI-CMU team! As you can see, the DRC is setup to test mobility, dexterity, manipulation, perception, and decision making skills these robots need to excel at to navigate hazardous conditions in disaster affected areas.

Along the sidelines of the DRC challenge, you will also get to see over 80 companies display their robots and UAVs at DARPAthe Technology Exposition. The Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF) will demo their Turtlebot exhibit among other things–please do stop by their booth #14. What’s unique about the Turtlebot demo? It runs the Robot Operating System (ROS) and is powered by the Inforce 6410 single board computer (SBC). Recall that Qualcomm ported ROS to the Snapdragon 600 powered Inforce 6410 last year. Get your hand at driving these Turtlebots around and share your experience!

Talking about the Inforce 6410, ARM recently did a nice review of the SBC and the response to what can be done with the board was fantastic. Sorry, a winner has already been announced. If you are serious about building robots and drones that solve real-life human problems, look no further than starting with the compute building blocks Inforce provides in the form of SOMs and SBCs. Check out the ubiquitous Inforce 6501 Micro SOM that measures just 28mm x 50mm and weighs under 8 grams (0.3oz). With a profile of just 6mm and powered by the Snapdragon™ 805 processor, a custom carrier board with the right kind of I/Os can be built to fit into some of these SWaP constrained designs. You can jump-start your robot designs with Qualcomm’s FastCV™, Vuforia™, Alljoyn™, Hexagon™, and other SDKs that enable computer vision, machine learning, pattern recognition, and communication capabilities on Inforce’s compute platforms.

Vasu Madabushi
The Inforce Computing Team

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