The Qualcomm Robotics RB3 Development Kit — The Hardware, Software and Tools Your Customers Want in a Robot

Thursday 3/21/19 09:00am
Posted By Dev Singh
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Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Don’t laugh. We know it has skinny legs, a black eye and a face only a robot could love.

But once you discover the variety of features, accessories and tools built into the Qualcomm® Robotics RB3 development kit available from Thundercomm, you’ll find plenty of beauty in it.

Besides, you can make virtually whatever kind of robot you build around it — whether for consumer robot, companion, home entertainment, retail, industrial, automatically guided vehicle, home care, logistics, or public safety — as pretty or as plain as you want.

The hardware to handle robot-age workloads

Even if the robot you build with the development kit doesn’t look like much on the surface, it should have what it needs to succeed because it is designed to help transform industries and enrich the lives of your customers.

Start with hardware. At the heart of the kit is the Qualcomm® Robotics RB3 platform, with the Qualcomm® SDA845 system on chip (SoC) for heterogeneous computing, computer vision, multimedia, security and connectivity. For artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning, the platform includes the Qualcomm® AI Engine, with up to three tera-operations per second (3 TOPS) of performance available for machine learning inference.

The development kit includes the robotics-focused DragonBoard™ 845c development board, which supports Linux and Robot Operating System (ROS) and is compliant with the 96Boards open hardware specification.

Also inside the kit is the Qualcomm Robotics navigation mezzanine board with time-of-flight (ToF) camera, tracking camera, stereo camera, and main camera. You’ll find hardware support for multiple microphones, and sensor support for proximity and inertial measurement unit (IMU) along with the ability to add additional sensors as needed. An optional cellular mezzanine board can provide LTE/CBRS cellular connectivity.

Components of the Qualcomm Robotics RB3 development kitComponents of the Qualcomm Robotics RB3 development kit

You can use the kit to prototype and test with options to commercialize with the Qualcomm SDA845 system on module (SoM) or as chip-on-board level design.

The software to give your robot real smarts

Then there’s software. Because the smarter you make your robot, the more your customers will want it.

The Qualcomm Robotics RB3 platform supports some of the most powerful SDK’s taking advantage of its heterogenous compute:

  • Qualcomm® Computer Vision SDK — Robots want to see and react, so it is required to have computer vision (CV) into your robot for perception, navigation and manipulation. Use this SDK for gesture recognition; face detection, tracking and recognition; text recognition and tracking; and augmented reality.
  • Qualcomm® Hexagon™ DSP SDK — Robots want to compute. Fast. With the Hexagon digital signal processor inside the Snapdragon® 845 mobile platform, your robot can offload audio, imaging, embedded vision and heterogeneous computing tasks from the CPU and graphics processing unit (GPU). Running those workloads on the Hexagon DSP helps reduce the amount of power needed to run them and can make your robot perform more naturally.
  • Qualcomm® Neural Processing SDK for AI — Robots want to learn. Even faster. This SDK is designed to help you run neural network models trained in Caffe/Caffe2, ONNX or TensorFlow. It includes tools that help you choose the optimal core — CPU, GPU or DSP — on which to run inference.

The tools that robots need

And, because your customers want a robot that does more than think and compute, the development kit includes tools for building useful capabilities into your robot such as these:

  • Object tracking, detection and classification
  • Object depth and avoidance
  • Face detection and recognition
  • Scene classification and understanding
  • Gesture and hand tracking
  • Voice activation and audio classification
  • vSLAM (visual localization and mapping)
  • Path planning and 3D map formation
  • Obstacle avoidance
  • Deep learning

Technologies from Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. are already at work in companion robots including Anki Vector, ElliQ and Sony Aibo. You can also find them in multimedia robots like Cerevo Tipron and Keecker, and in functional machines like robotic vacuum cleaners from iRobot, ECOVACS and Panasonic.

Qualcomm Robotics RB3 development kit — Next steps

When you’ve got the hardware, software and tools to transform industries and make a big difference in people’s daily life, who cares if you have a big, black eye and skinny legs?

Read more about the Qualcomm Robotics RB3 development kit. Better yet, order yours from Thundercomm right now and start building and testing the kinds of robots that will become part of your customers’ lives. And then let us know what you have built with this great robotics package!