NVIDIA announces platform to build intelligent robots

NVIDIA has announced the availability of NVIDIA Isaac, a new platform to power the next generation of autonomous machines, bringing artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to robots for manufacturing, logistics, agriculture, construction, and many other industries.

Isaac has been demonstrated several times by NVIDIA in the past year but this announcement concerns its availability at of the NVIDIA Jetson Xavier developer kit, which includes the Isaac robotics software, at US$1,299, with early access starting in August from distributors worldwide.

NVIDIA Isaac includes new hardware, software and a virtual-world robot simulator.

“AI is the most powerful technology force of our time. 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,” said Jensen Huang, Founder and CEO of NVIDIA at the pre-Computex press conference.

At the heart of NVIDIA Isaac is Jetson Xavier, the world’s first computer designed specifically for robotics. With more than nine billion transistors, it 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 has 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, localisation 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, recognise and predict motion of nearby objects, reason about what action to perform and articulate itself safely.