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Qualcomm Equips AI-Powered Robots

July 7, 2020

Author: Mike Demler

Qualcomm’s new RB5 robotics platform has an industrial-grade QRB5165 processor based on the Snapdragon 865. The company’s robotics team modified the 865 to tolerate industrial temperatures and upgraded the ISP to support surround vision.

The RB5 joins the Snapdragon 845–based RB3 at the top of Qualcomm’s robotics lineup, which targets commercial and industrial systems including agricultural and construction equipment, drones, factory robots, floor cleaners, and package-delivery vehicles. The company also offers midrange kits powered by Snapdragon 6-series processors and entry-level kits powered by 4-series processors. Robot manufacturers that upgrade to the RB5 can get 15 trillion operations per second (TOPS) of neural-network inference throughput as well as higher-speed and lower-latency 5G communications. The chip supports the new Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) for private LTE networks.

The RB5 is a configurable developer kit consisting of the main processor board and a set of mezzanine cards, which designers can stack like Lego blocks, as Figure 1 shows. The cards optionally include a variety of cameras, industrial connectors, motor controllers, sensors, and cellular radios. To build commercial products, manufacturers can purchase PoP or non-PoP chip-on-board designs, or off-the-shelf system-on-module (SoM) designs.

Thundercomm is taking preorders for the RB5 and plans to begin shipments in late July. The core kit, comprising the main board with a QRB5165 processor and USB connector, sells for $495. The vision kit includes the main board and the vision mezzanine card, which has a 12-megapixel primary camera and a Sony IMX577 tracking camera. It sells for $700.

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