It has been a long time since NVIDIA was singularly focused on graphics chips. These days the company has its tentacles in multiple different markets, with an especially big interest in artificial intelligence. As part of that, NVIDIA is rolling out Isaac, a new platform designed to power the next generation of autonomous machines, injecting AI capabilities into robots for various different tasks.
What kinds of tasks? Everything from manufacturing and logistics, to agriculture, construction, and much more. NVIDIA officially launched the platform at this year’s Computex convention, noting that Issac features hardware, software, and a virtual robot simulator as part of the overall platform.
“AI is the most powerful technology force of our time,” NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang said. “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. Someday, there will be billions of intelligent machines in manufacturing, home delivery, warehouse logistics and much more.”
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Powering the new platform is Jetson Xavier, which according to NVIDIA is the world’s first computer purpose-built for robotics. It boasts more than 9 billion transistors and delivers over 30 trillion operations per second. There are half a dozen processors that comprise Jetson Xavier, including a Volta Tensor Core GPU, an eight-core ARM64 CPU, two deep learning accelerators, an image processor, a vision processor, and a video processor.
All combined, Jetson Xavier offers up more performance than a powerful workstation while using a third of the energy of a lightbulb, NVIDIA says. It can process dozens of algorithms at the same time, and in real-time for sensor processor, 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,” NVIDIA says.
Using this technology, a client can implement autonomous machines capable of perceiving its surroundings, allowing them work safely with flesh and blood workers (we called them ‘humans’ before the robot uprising) and adapt to change. This also makes them suitable for tasks that present various challenges for robotics, like efficiently and moving and managing inventory, and service robots in retail, and assisting the sick and elderly.
NVIDIA will make available its Jetson Xavier developer kit in August, priced at $1,299.