5G, 8K video, up to 7 cameras and 15 TOPS of processing on a drone

Thursday 9/9/21 08:21am
Posted By Dev Singh
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Snapdragon and Qualcomm branded products are products of
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

How many times have you said, “If I had a drone with 5G, seven-camera concurrency, 8K video and 15 TOPS of processing, I could . . .”

Whatever you’ve told yourself you could do with features like those on a drone, you can stop wishing it and start inventing it. The Qualcomm Flight™ RB5 5G drone reference design is now available for pre-order from ModalAI.

5G and AI in a single design
The reference design is built around the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform, combining two of your biggest wants in an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV): long range and high intelligence.

It comes with on-board Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) for swarm and drone-to-drone communication. Through an optional mezzanine board, you can add LTE/5G/CBRS and extend your range beyond visual light of sight to the edge of cellular coverage.

Then, the reference design bundles perception and computer vision with algorithms for obstacle avoidance and self-guidance. It offers the heterogeneous computing needed to manage all that intelligence with low power consumption, extending your flight time.

So, now that you can get a drone with enough range to fly out of sight and enough on-board intelligence to guide it, what’s your logical next step?

It’s time to try autonomous flying.
Think of a scenario like autonomous package delivery. You give a drone a payload, a destination, a return point and a fully charged battery, then launch it. Without operator intervention, the drone determines the optimal route and executes the task, handling any unexpected events on its own.

The features of the Flight RB5 5G Reference Design make that kind of scenario possible:

  • Heterogeneous computing — Integrated SoC with Qualcomm® Kryo™ 585 CPU, Qualcomm® Adreno™ 650 GPU and Qualcomm® Hexagon™ 698 DSP for high compute and low power consumption
  • Image signal processing — Qualcomm Spectra™ 480 ISP designed to process 2 gigapixels per second for 8K video recording, 4K HDR video capture and 200 megapixel photos
  • Perception — Electronic image stabilization (EIS), digital zoom, horizon leveling and concurrency of up to seven cameras
  • Artificial intelligence — Qualcomm® AI Engine for running deep learning workloads at up to 15 trillion operations per second (TOPS), plus Hexagon Vector eXtensions (HVX) and Hexagon Tensor Accelerator to support on-device AI processing and computer vision (CV)
  • 360-degree obstacle avoidance — Depth estimation, obstacle detection, mapping and VOA
  • Autonomy — Visual inertial odometry (VIO), path planning, PX4 collision prevention, GPS-denied navigation and follow-me

Use cases
In case you don’t already have your own ideas for how to put the combination of processing, intelligence and connectivity to work, here are a few to get you started:

  • Public safety — UAVs play a growing role in disaster management, search and rescue and emergency medical delivery. Imagine using a drone to track wildfire progress, using its image processing and AI features to chart and help predict the path of a fire.
  • Film and entertainment — Combining autonomy with aerial photography calls on the ISP for concurrency of feeds from as many as seven cameras. The perception features of the reference design can yield jitter-free imagery at a distance for more immersive footage. Additionally, captured footage can immediately be sent to a director/producer with 5G bandwidth and low latency.
  • Asset inspection — Drones can reach and closely inspect infrastructure like bridges, towers, power lines and utility/refinery equipment, in ways humans cannot. Operating at the edge of the network, the platform blends high-resolution photography, AI and deep learning for faster recognition of potential problems.
  • Mapping and surveying — Mapping large areas of land is an ideal application for autonomous flying capabilities. Combining the Qualcomm AI Engine and Qualcomm Spectra ISP, planners can piece together photographs for cohesive, accurate 3D models that lead to digital twins.

Your turn
Ready to try out your wildest drone ideas on the Qualcomm Flight RB5 reference design? It’s available for pre-order now from ModalAI.

Qualcomm Flight RB5, Qualcomm Kryo, Qualcomm Adreno, Qualcomm Hexagon, Qualcomm Spectra, and Qualcomm AI Engine are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.