Robotics

Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform is 5G and AI-enabled

23rd June 2020
Joe Bush

Qualcomm Technologies has announced the Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform. Building on the Qualcomm Robotics RB3 platform and its broad adoption in a wide array of robotics and drone products available today, the Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform is comprised of an extensive set of hardware, software and development tools.

The Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform brings together the company’s expertise in 5G and AI to empower developers and manufacturers to create the next generation of high-compute, low-power robots and drones for the consumer, enterprise, defence, industrial and professional service sectors – and the Qualcomm Robotics RB5 Development Kit helps ensure developers have the customisation and flexibility they need to make their visions a commercial reality.

To date, Qualcomm Technologies has engaged many companies that have endorsed the Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform, including 20+ early adopters in the process of evaluating the platform. Additionally, 30+ ecosystem players are developing necessary hardware and software to enable various robotics applications; these include the following companies: 96Boards, Acontis, ADLINK, AirMap, AirServe, Airtonomy, AlwaysAI, Augmented Pixels, Autocore, Autoware Foundation, Canonical, DeepEdge.ai, DreamVu, Dronecode, Fractal.ai, GlobalEdge, Innominds Software, InOrbit, Intel RealSense, Lantronix, Linaro, LiteOn, Kudan, ModalAI, Nod, Open Robotics, Panasonic, PathPartners, Pilot.AI, Shoreline IoT, SLAMCORE, TDK, Thundercomm, and Tier IV. 

The platform’s Qualcomm QRB5165 processor, customised for robotics applications, offers a heterogeneous computing architecture coupled with the leading fifth-generation Qualcomm AI Engine delivering 15 Tera Operations Per Second (TOPS) of AI performance for running complex AI and deep learning workloads. The processor also offers machine learning (ML) inferencing at the edge under restricted power budgets using the new Qualcomm Hexagon Tensor Accelerator (HTA), a powerful image signal processor (ISP) with support for seven concurrent cameras, and a dedicated computer vision engine for enhanced video analytics (EVA). With support for 4G and 5G connectivity speeds via a companion module, the Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform helps pave the way for the proliferation of 5G in robotics and intelligent systems.

With the Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform and the Qualcomm QRB5165 processor, the company enables various design offerings including off-the-shelf system-on-module solutions and flexible chip-on-board designs. The solution is available in multiple options, including commercial and industrial-grade temperature ranges and an option for extended lifecycle until 2029.

“Qualcomm Technologies is the world’s leading wireless technology innovator with a strong foundation in AI, mobile computing and connectivity. By applying its deep-rooted mobile systems expertise to the robotics industry, Qualcomm Technologies is helping to enable the creation of more powerful, secure, and intelligent robots than ever before,” said Dev Singh, Senior Director, Business Development and Head of Autonomous Robotics, Drones and Intelligent Machines, Qualcomm Technologies. “With the Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform, Qualcomm Technologies will help accelerate growth in a wide array of robotics segments such as autonomous mobile robots (AMR), delivery, inspection, inventory, industrial, collaborative robots and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), enabling Industry 4.0 robotics use cases, and laying the foundation for the UAV Traffic Management (UTM) space.”

To enable the next generation of robotics solutions and designs, Qualcomm Technologies has entered into a strategic collaboration with TDK to further enhance the capabilities of the Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform. TDK has added its latest sensor technologies for enhanced robotics applications as part of the Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform and they have been instrumental in providing sensor solutions and motor control hardware.

The Qualcomm Robotics RB5 Development Kit is customisable and developers have flexible software capabilities, with the platform offering support for Linux, Ubuntu and Robot Operating System (ROS) 2.0, as well as pre-integrated drivers for various cameras, sensors and 5G connectivity. It also provides support for OpenCL, OpenGLES and OpenCV.

Additionally, the Qualcomm Robotics RB5 Development Kit includes support for the Intel RealSense Depth Camera D435i and Panasonic TOF Camera to provide leading depth-sensing capabilities. Qualcomm’s strategic collaboration with TDK has been integral in enabling the company’s RB5 Robotics Development Kit with TDK’s 6-axis, high performance ICM-42688-P IMU, accompanied by a ICP-10111 barometric pressure and a T5818 Digital (PDM) bottom port microphone.

TDK also enables the development kit with its ultrasonic Time-Of-Flight CH101 and CH201 solutions, in addition to its embedded motor control (HVC4223F) and high performance IMU with built-in redundancy (IIM-46220). Additional technologies by TDK include Hall effect and temperature sensors and validated and verified software algorithms dedicated to robotic applications. Finally, the Qualcomm Robotics RB5 Development Kit utilises 96Boards Consumer Edition Specification which helps offer versatility for creating innovative proof-of-concepts and rapid prototyping.

Key Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform technical features include:

  • Powerful heterogeneous computing: For high power computing performance, the Qualcomm QRB5165 processor of Qualcomm RB5 Platform integrates Octa Core Qualcomm Kryo 585 CPU, powerful Qualcomm Adreno 650 GPU, multiple DSPs (compute, audio and sensor) and ISPs. It also contains a dedicated, powerful AI engine, which includes the Hexagon Tensor Accelerator, and dedicated computer vision hardware block (EnhancedVideo Analytics engine).
  • 5th generation Qualcomm AI engine: New dedicated Hexagon Tensor Accelerator is based on the fifth-generation Qualcomm Artificial Intelligence Engine, delivering 15 TOPS of AI performance with high AI and ML inferencing.
  • Advanced imaging capability: Qualcomm Spectra 480 Image Signal Processor (ISP) captures fast, professional quality photos and videos, and can process 2 Gigapixels per second. This Gigapixel speed supports superior camera features, including Dolby Vision video capture, 8K video recording (at 30 FPS) and 200-megapixel photos, and simultaneously captures 4K HDR video (at 120 FPS) and 64 MP photos with zero shutter lag. The hardware accelerator utilises the Engine for Video Analytics (EVA) to handle all Computer Vision (CV) tasks. Additional ISP features include HEIF photo capture, slow motion video capture, and advanced video capture formats (including Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+, HEVC and HLG). Seven concurrent cameras facilitate simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM), object detection and classification, autonomous navigation and path planning to efficiently and safely perform tasks in complex indoor and outdoor settings.
  • Security Support: The Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit is designed to offer robust security without compromising power. The Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit includes secure boot, cryptographic accelerators, Qualcomm Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) and camera security and is FIPS 140-2 certified. Additional security features include key provisioning security, malware protection, Qualcomm Content Protection, Qualcomm Mobile Security, Qualcomm Processor Security, and secure token to support remote attestation and secure device provisioning. For advanced AI and ML security, the platform supports Biometric Authentication (including fingerprint, iris, voice, and face).
  • Connectivity: The Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform supports long-range Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.1, and 4G and 5G, providing the highest level of connectivity available.

Customer and partner endorsements

“We are very excited to support the Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform as the latest addition to the 96Boards.AI initiative,” said Dr. Yang Zhang, Director, 96Boards. “Qualcomm Robotics RB5 featuring QRB5165 Robotics Processor, is the first 96Boards compliant platform offering 5G, AI, Heterogeneous Computing, Computer Vision Engine, Advanced ISP Multi-Camera Concurrency for a large range of applications. With our partners, we believe this product will revolutionize the robotic and drone market as we know today. We are pleased to see our member Qualcomm Technologies continue to deliver its commitment to the wider developer ecosystem, with a clear path for production.”

“EtherCAT is a simple, robust, affordable, ethernet-based industrial protocol with integrated safety that delivers exceptional performance in flexible topologies making it ideal for industrial robotics applications,” said Jon Waters, chief executive officer, Acontis. “We are delighted to see Qualcomm Technologies recognise the importance of EtherCAT for robotics applications and making it available as part of the Qualcomm Robotics RB5 Platform. We are excited to collaborate with Qualcomm Technologies to proliferate EtherCAT adoption across various robotics applications.”

“ADLINK is very pleased to support the launch of Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform. As a global leader in edge computing, ADLINK is committed to serving our customers across industries with cutting-edge technologies in AI, machine vision and Industrial IoT,” said Henry Hu, global business development director, ADLINK TECHNOLOGY INC. “We are excited to be one of the early adopters to embark on a series of new developments based on Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform. By harnessing the power of the Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform’s Qualcomm AI Engine and 5G connectivity, ADLINK will be able to significantly leverage our deep expertise in heterogeneous computing and industry-grade ruggedness, and ultimately enable a broad range of next-generation applications such as autonomous mobile robots, industrial robots, and unmanned aerial vehicles.”

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