Snapdragon-powered drone Cargo uses an in-built SoC to identify its surroundings using sensors
Mobile chipmaker Qualcomm has revealed a new concept drone which it hopes will accelerate the introduction of robotic delivery methods.
The company’s development arm, Qualcomm Research, took to the stage at CES 2015 to reveal Snapdragon Cargo, a robotic drone that can both drive itself and quickly and safely identify its location both in the air and on the ground.
The drone is powered by a multi-functional computing platform built around a low-powered Snapdragon system on a chip (SoC) much like the processors seen in many mobile phone.
This makes use of multi-core processing, wireless communications, sensor integration, spatial positioning and real time input-output for a variety of robotics applications which ensure the drone is able to complete its deliveries without any damage to its cargo.
Snapdragon Cargo is also able to identify its position thanks to integrated Computer Vision technologies, which allow it to perceive its location and surroundings to best determine its route.
This includes include Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO) which tracks 3D position and orientation using sensors and cameras; Vision-only Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (VSLAM) which tracks the 3D position and orientation in texture-rich environments and Depth From Stereo cameras (DFS) which provides enough information to the robot to avoid collisions.
Ground movement is facilitated by tank-like tracks on the sides of the drone, which also act as a protection mechanism by allowing the drone to elevate itself to move around obstacles.
The Snapdragon Cargo is still in development, meaning there is no news on how much it will be able to carry or when we should see it appear in everyday life, but the scale of investment into the unit by Qualcomm should mean big progress coming soon.
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