GTC 2016 – Drones

At GTC 2016 in early April of 2016, there were several different rotorcraft being shown that incorporate a Jetson Development Kit or NVIDIA Tegra SoC. The following are in no particular order.

IFM Technologies

One of my favorites was a prototype from startup IFM Technologies. Looky here:

The prototype incorporates a Jetson TK1 Dev Kit which enables the IFM to fly autonomously using vision processing. This enables high levels of autonomy in indoor environments where GPS is unavailable.

Aerialtronics

On the other end of the drone spectrum, Aerialtronics brought an industrial outdoor drone called the Altura Zenith. The Altura Zenith can reach speeds of 55 miles per hour, and can carry a 5 kilogram payload. The Altura uses a Jetson onboard to interface with a dual band infrared fusion pod for use in Search and Rescue missions.

Aerialtronics Altura Zenith
Aerialtronics Altura Zenith

AerialGuard

AerialGuard is a startup which enables unmanned vehicles to navigate in places with no prior knowledge of the environment.

AerialGuard
AerialGuard

The drone utilizes a Jetson to process the sensor data from a Stereolabs ZED camera.

Stereolabs

Speaking of Stereolabs, they were showing a Jetson TX1 mounted on a DJI Matrice drone connected to a Stereolabs ZED camera. This combination was creating a 3D computer model of objects in the environment, while the drone was being flown.

Stereolabs
Stereolabs

Stereolabs figured prominently in many of the different robotics projects at GTC, in part because of the quality of their product, and in part because of the optimized code written specifically for Jetson and the NVIDIA Tegra processors.

Percepto

Percepto was showing their PerceptoCore module which enables onboard computer vision abilities for consumer and commercial drones. PerceptoCore is built around a Tegra K1 SoC.

PerceptoCore
PerceptoCore

Prox Dynamics

Prox Dynamics discussed the challenges of integrating a Tegra K1 chip into their 18 gram nano-drone. A very interesting talk was delivered at the conference which included one of the Black Hornets being flown about the room during the talk. Extremely way impressive!

Prox Dynamics BlackHornet
Prox Dynamics BlackHornet

Conclusion

This year appeared to be the start of NVIDIA entry into the drone market, as the Tegra processors are beginning to show up in different vendors products. The popularity of flying robots should increase significantly as their ‘electronic brains’ grow in capacity and capability.

Photos courtesy of Apollo Timbers of Second Robotics LLC.

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