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Helping Robots Take Control

June 22, 2020
Latest Qualcomm robotic platform release ups the game for robotic use cases.

Last week, Qualcomm announced the next step in their bid to power the next generation of commercial 5G-enabled robots, with the release of the RB5 platform. Bringing high-compute power and a significant degree of modularity to the energy-constrained robotic platform market, the RB5 is an evolution on the company’s RB3 platform released in 2019, and a potential game-changer in the development of smart robotic fleets. 

Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform is comprised of an extensive set of hardware, software and development tools. The Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform is the first of its kind to bring together the Company’s deep 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, defense, industrial and professional service sectors. 

The comprehensive Qualcomm Robotics RB5 Development Kit helps ensure developers have the customization and flexibility needed to commercialize robotic endeavors. To date, Qualcomm Technologies has engaged many leading companies that have endorsed theQualcomm Robotics RB5 platform, including20+ early adopters in the process of evaluatingthe platform.Additionally, 30+ ecosystem players are developingnecessary hardware and softwareto enablevarious robotics applications.Beyond simple hardware, RB5 is a rich development kit with the potential to address many end-robot types from US$200-dollar social robots to autonomous haulage trucks.

According to ABI Research, “providing a comprehensive development environment to support the integration of robotics chipset platforms is not unique to Qualcomm as we have seen other players, such as Nvidia with their ISAAC SDK, adopting the same approach. However, there are many new capabilities that differentiate RB5 from competing solutions, including the very feature-rich and highly integrated connected chipset design approach Qualcomm has traditionally used to generate scale in many markets, including smartphones, the home robots, and other IoT applications. From this perspective, RB5 represents a major addition in the toolbox for those developing the next fleet of smart robots.  

“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, Inc. “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.”  

ABI Research’s Rian Whitton tells IndustryWeek, the mezzanines add a really impressive degree of customization, making this pretty close to a comprehensive platform for any kind of mobile robot,” he saysThe partnership with AWS is also interesting. Robot developers need all the software improvements they can get to reduce autonomy exceptions when these robots are deployed.  

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 state-of-the-art sensor technologies for enhanced robotics applications as part of the Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform and they have been instrumental in providing world class sensor solutions and motor control hardware.  

The fact that RB5 focuses on expanding 5G's usefulness is exciting as manufacturers develop use cases. However, Whitton sees its robotic utilization occurring further down the road. 4K video streaming, massive IoT and ultra-low latency for mission critical operations are all valuable competencies 5G will bring to the robotics fleets of the future,” he saysA lot more has to fall into place before the adoption of 5G for robotics becomes normalized however, and there’s a lot of low hanging fruit that can rely solely on WIFI and 4G /LTE. 

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