Nvidia robotics platform heralds 'new era' of autonomous machines

June 05, 2018 // By Rich Pell
Nvidia (Santa Clara, CA) has announced a new platform designed to power the next generation of autonomous machines.

Called Nvidia Isaac , the platform is designed to bring artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to robots for manufacturing, logistics, agriculture, construction, and many other industries. It includes new hardware, software, and a virtual-world robot simulator.

"AI is the most powerful technology force of our time," says Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang. "Its first phase will enable new levels of software automation that boost productivity in many industries."

"Next, AI, in combination with sensors and actuators, will be the brain of a new generation of autonomous machines," says Huang. "Someday, there will be billions of intelligent machines in manufacturing, home delivery, warehouse logistics, and much more."

Nvidia Isaac is built on what the company claims is the world's first computer designed specifically for robotics. Called Jetson Xavier , the computer has more than nine billion transistors and delivers over 30 TOPS (trillion operations per second) - more processing capability than a powerful workstation while using a third the energy of a lightbulb.

Jetson Xavier features six kinds of high-performance processors: a Volta Tensor Core GPU, an eight-core ARM64 CPU, dual NVDLA deep learning accelerators, an image processor, a vision processor, and a video processor. These enable dozens of algorithms to be processed concurrently and in real time for sensor processing, odometry, localization and mapping, vision and perception, and path planning.

This level of performance is essential for a robot to take input from sensors, locate itself, perceive its environment, recognize and predict motion of nearby objects, reason about what action to perform and articulate itself safely, says the company. A toolbox of robotics software is provided for the simulation, training, verification and deployment of Jetson Xavier:

  • Isaac SDK is a collection of APIs and tools to develop robotics algorithm software and runtime framework with fully accelerated libraries.
  • Isaac IMX provides Isaac Intelligent Machine Acceleration applications, a collection of NVIDIA-developed robotics algorithm software.
  • Isaac Sim is a highly realistic virtual simulation

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