Listen to this article
NVIDIA today announced a number of new tools for robotics developers during its GTC event, including Jetson Orin Nano system-on-modules, updates to its Nova Orin reference platform for autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and cloud-based availability for its Isaac Sim technology.
NVIDIA expanded its Jetson lineup with the launch of Jetson Orin Nano system-on-modules for entry-level edge AI and robotics applications. The new Orin Nano delivers up to 40 trillion operations per second (TOPS) of AI performance, which NVIDIA said is 80x the performance over the prior generation, in the smallest Jetson form factor yet.
Jetson Orin features an NVIDIA Ampere architecture GPU, Arm-based CPUs, next-generation deep learning and vision accelerators, high-speed interfaces, fast memory bandwidth and multimodal sensor support. The Orin Nano modules will be available in two versions. The Orin Nano 8GB delivers up to 40 TOPS with power configurable from 7W to 15W, while the 4GB version delivers up to 20 TOPS with power options as low as 5W to 10W.
Orin Nano is supported by the NVIDIA JetPack software development kit and is powered by the same NVIDIA CUDA-X accelerated computing stack used to create AI products in such fields as industrial IoT, manufacturing, smart cities and more.
The Jetson Orin Nano modules will be available in January 2023 starting at $199.
“Over 1,000 customers and 150 partners have embraced Jetson AGX Orin since NVIDIA announced its availability just six months ago, and Orin Nano will significantly expand this adoption,” said Deepu Talla, vice president of embedded and edge computing at NVIDIA. “With an orders-of-magnitude increase in performance for millions of edge AI and ROS developers today, Jetson Orin is the ideal platform for virtually every kind of robotics deployment imaginable.”
The Orin Nano modules are form-factor and pin-compatible with the previously announced Orin NX modules. Full emulation support allows customers to get started developing for the Orin Nano series today using the AGX Orin developer kit. This gives customers the flexibility to design one system to support multiple Jetson modules and easily scale their applications.
The Jetson Orin platform is designed to solve tough robotics challenges and brings accelerated computing to over 700,000 ROS developers. Combined with the powerful hardware capabilities of Orin Nano, enhancements in the latest NVIDIA Isaac software for ROS put increased performance and productivity in the hands of roboticists.
Jetson Orin has seen broad support across the robotics and embedded computing ecosystem, including from Canon, John Deere, Microsoft Azure, Teradyne, TK Elevator and many more.
Isaac Sim in the clouds
NVIDIA also announced there will be three ways to access its Isaac Sim robotics simulation platform on the cloud:
- It will soon be available on the new NVIDIA Omniverse Cloud platform
- It’s available now on AWS RoboMaker
- Developers can now download it from NVIDIA NGC and deploy it to any public cloud
Roboticists will be able to generate large datasets from physically accurate sensor simulations to train the AI-based perception models on their robots. The synthetic data generated in these simulations improve the model performance and provide training data that often can’t be collected in the real world.
NVIDIA said the upcoming release of Isaac Sim will include NVIDIA cuOpt, a real-time fleet task-assignment and route-planning engine for optimizing robot path planning. Tapping into the accelerated performance of the cloud, teams can make dynamic, data-driven decisions, whether designing the ideal warehouse layout or optimizing active operations.
Nova Orin updates
NVIDIA also shared new details about three Nova Orin reference platform configurations for AMRs. Two use a single Jetson AGX Orin — which runs the NVIDIA Isaac robotics stack and the Robot Operating System (ROS) with the GPU-accelerated framework — and one relies on two Orin modules.
NVIDIA said the Nova Orin platform is designed to improve reliability and reduce development costs for building and deploying AMRs. Nova Orin provides industrial-grade configurations of sensors, software and GPU-computing capabilities.
The Nova Orin reference architecture designs are provided for specific use cases. There is one Orin-based design without safety-certified sensors, and one that includes them, along with a safety programmable logic controller. The third architecture has a dual Orin-based design that depends on vision AI for enabling functional safety.
Sensor support is included for stereo cameras, LiDAR, ultrasonic sensors and inertial measurement units. The chosen sensors have been selected to balance performance, price and reliability for industrial applications. The stereo cameras and fisheye cameras are custom designed by NVIDIA in coordination with camera partners. All sensors are calibrated and time-synchronized, and come with drivers for reliable data capture. These sensors allow AMRs to detect objects and obstacles across a wide range of situations while also enabling simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM).
NVIDIA provides two LiDAR options, one for applications that don’t need sensors certified for functional safety, and the other for those that do. In addition to these 2D LiDARs, Nova Orin supports 3D LiDAR for mapping and ground-truth data collection.
The base OS includes drivers and firmware for all the hardware and adaptation tools, as well as design guides for integrating it with robots. Nova can be integrated with a ROS-based robot application. The sensors will have validated models in Isaac Sim for application development and testing without the need for an actual robot.
The cloud-native data acquisition tools eliminate the arduous task of setting up data pipelines for the vast amount of sensor data needed for training models, debugging and analytics. State-of-the-art GEMs developed for Nova sensors are GPU accelerated with the Jetson Orin platform, providing key building blocks such as visual SLAM, stereo depth estimation, obstacle detection, 3D reconstruction, semantic segmentation and pose estimation.
Nova Orin supports secure over-the-air updates, as well as device management and monitoring, to enable easy deployment and reduce the cost of maintenance. Its open, modular design enables developers to use some or all capabilities of the platform and extend it to quickly develop robotics applications.
NVIDIA is working closely with regulatory bodies to develop vision-enabled safety technology to further reduce cost and improve the reliability of AMRs.