NVIDIA's CES 2020 lineup featured gaming hardware and software, but the company also displayed its commitment to GPU-driven artificial intelligence (AI) tools for autonomous vehicles and robots. Leading NVIDIA's charge into autonomous software are two products: DRIVE AGX Orin, the latest component of NVIDIA's software-defined automated vehicle (AV) platform, and NVIDIA Isaac - its robotics development platform.
DRIVE, NVIDIA's AV platform, has been around for some time, but two big developments in the platform make it a major player in the growing AV market:
the recent announcement of DRIVE AGX Orin, a new platform based around the Orin system-on-a-chip (SoC). Orin is reportedly 7 times faster than NVIDIA's last SoC Xavier. Orin was designed with AVs in mind and is part of a scalable platform NVIDIA will be rolling out in vehicles starting in 2022.
NVIDIA DRIVE is an end-to-end platform built for data collection, model training, simulations, and learning in the real world. All of the data collected by DRIVE is used to build models that can be modified to suit OEM needs. OEMs including Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and Uber are already using it. NVIDIA is opening up the platform to all AV companies and attempting to build a "federated learning" system that will make NVIDIA DRIVE one of the smartest, most well-modeled AV platforms available.
NVIDIA announced new features of its Isaac robotics development kit in December 2019. Included in the recent release are features like 3D pose estimation, 2D human pose estimation, Isaac Sim (a virtual training environment), and a transfer learning tool that will give trained models the ability to adapt to new hardware.
Several Isaac-powered robots were on display, including the Toyota T-HR3 humanoid partner robot.
Two areas of note attracted our attention:
Delta Airlines highlighted a partnership with Sarcos Robotics, where it will trial a battery-powered exoskeleton ‘Guardian XO’. Designed to help ease the physical burden of Delta’s employees working in airplane maintenance, this exoskeleton weighs 170kg and has around 2 hours battery life and enables the wearer to lift as much as 90kg repeatedly. Training requirements are said to be minimal (after 6 to 8 hours of use, it is said to feel natural), and the company is aiming to provide this exoskeleton as a Robot-as-a-Service model. Sarcos Robotics spun out of Raytheon and is aiming to raise Series C funding