Autonomous Things (AuT), also known as the Internet of Autonomous Things (IoAT), are devices that carry out specific tasks autonomously without human interaction. Such devices include autonomous machines, vehicles, robots, drones, and other smart devices.
Autonomous machines are becoming ubiquitous in everyday life. The autonomous robots market is expected to reach USD 21.2 Billion, exhibiting a CAGR of 16.90% by 2030. AI (Artificial Intelligence), the key technology enabling new real-world autonomous machine applications, is impacting nearly every industry. The perfect storm of autonomous machines and AI can do wonders and solve some of the world’s toughest problems.
Organizations very well understood the need for upskilling in AI-enabled autonomous machines to satisfy the demand as there were not enough humans at work during the pandemic and in the post-pandemic world. Robots, drones, and other autonomous machines are being leveraged to become front-end players serving many industries.
AI-enabled autonomous machines help to increase post-pandemic efficiency, safety, quality, and productivity across industries ─ from manufacturing and agriculture to security and home-based healthcare. Autonomous machines are expected to see strong growth beyond our imagination in the coming years.
Evolution of IoAT Devices
Vacuum cleaners were the first-gen consumer robots with limited navigational abilities. They used infrared transmitters and shock sensors – but that’s all changed. Nowadays, robots, drones, and other autonomous machines are equipped with AI capabilities, allowing them to learn, adapt, evolve, and think for themselves. These applications can include machine learning, computer vision, autonomous navigation, and more.
These devices can detect and recognize their surroundings effortlessly using their superhuman abilities ─ thanks to technological advancements, such as increasingly powerful and intelligent platforms, advanced sensors, and high-resolution cameras.
All sensors provide real-time and highly accurate data from the real world and this data is converted into a more usable state after preprocessing. For object detection and classification, further processing is required in which features like corners, edges, blobs are extracted. With this, autonomous machines are not only able to detect and track objects but also determine the orientation of objects along with the ability of self-navigation in dynamic environments.
Qualcomm QRB5165, Edge Labs, and Aikri Portfolio – Game-changers
Qualcomm is continuing its work to improve how these autonomous machines connect, compute, and communicate. Qualcomm has announced QRB5165, a robotics-specific SoC that will accelerate the development and deployment of smart autonomous machines across a broad range of industries.
QRB5165 can be a game-changer for developing power-efficient yet high-performance drone, robotics, and autonomous machines applications. QRB5165 has an extended lifecycle and supports high-performance heterogeneous computing, on-device AI/ML, and advanced computer vision with robust security, multimedia and multi-camera concurrency, Wi-Fi 6, and 4G and/or 5G cellular connectivity capabilities.
QRB5165 delegates processing to a suitable processor ─ be it Hexagon™ 698 DSP and Qualcomm® Spectra™ 480 ISP, graphics-oriented Qualcomm® Adreno™ 650 GPU for delivering high-performance computing with low power requirement rather than using CPU alone. This platform enables features like object tracking, detection and classification, face detection and recognition, gesture and hand tracking, built-in sensors with 3D mapping, vSLAM (visual localization and mapping), and obstacle avoidance.
On the software front, developers can utilize Qualcomm® Neural Processing Engine SDK, Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ Heterogeneous Compute SDK, and Qualcomm® Computer Vision for faster image processing, feature extraction, and further computing for true autonomous navigation.
eInfochips, in collaboration with Arrow and Qualcomm, has established “Edge Labs”, a center of excellence (CoE) to accelerate the development of connected intelligent AI-enabled edge devices including autonomous machines. Under “Aikri” portfolio, we have off-the-shelf Development Kit and System-on-Module (SoM) based on QRB5165 to kickstart early development, prototyping, and parallel software development of IoAT devices. With this, engineering and testing that would typically take months can be done in minutes. QRB5165 is an ideal platform for a wide array of robotics applications across industries such as Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), inventory robots, retail robots, pick-sort-place robots, healthcare, first-mile and last-mile delivery robots, industrial & manufacturing robots, prosumer and commercial drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and defense robots. Autonomous machines with telepresence capabilities can do wonders across industries. Let’s understand various applications with examples.
Applications of Autonomous Robots
The healthcare industry has been using this technology for long. Medical telepresence bots, with voice recognition and an integrated touchscreen, help physicians to examine patients remotely, who have recently been discharged from the hospital. It helps eliminate travel time during emergencies (i.e., a stroke) when each second counts.
SARAS is developing a smart autonomous surgical robotic system that will enable a single surgeon to execute operations without an expert assistant surgeon. Swoop Aero supplies medicines through autonomous drones in areas where a ground transfer is not possible, safe, or reliable across countries.
Manufacturing and Industrial Automation
The AI-enabled autonomous machine is the heart of any smart factory. Apart from improving productivity, AI-enabled robots reduce downtime with predictive maintenance as well as help in a quality inspection by identifying the smallest imperfections. They also help organizations in providing access to hazardous environments and reduce error/re-work rates.
Logistics / Supply Chain
IoAT devices have already started bringing innovation to the supply chain industry. Autonomous machines make warehouses more intelligent by carrying out logistics operations such as inventory management, handling, and transporting manufactured goods to the warehouse or other locations. There are numerous examples of AuT devices in logistics; such as Amazon’s drone delivery service – Prime Air, being one of the most successful platforms
Autonomous machines can be the ideal training and coaching partners in different sports. They can help athletes practice in a better way and eventually improvise their performances by providing useful insights. You might have seen robots serving as trainers or ideal dummies in badminton, rugby, golf, boxing, and football. Also, there are many worldwide sports tournaments for autonomous robots – be it soccer, basketball, ice-skating, or skiing. AI-enabled AuT devices also help in delivering a better viewing experience by proving the right camera angle.
Autonomous machines can help retailers in boosting their sales by restocking shelves faster than ever before. They can navigate stores, scan barcodes, and track tens of thousands of items in an hour. IoAT devices can provide data of misplaced or mispriced products, up to date in-store location, and availability. In this way, they can offer better visibility to customers and employees about what’s on shelves.
You must have seen those ads in which a sleek and smart luggage bag follows people like their companion. These kinds of personal bots use cameras and sensors for capturing images continuously that can help follow the user. Piaggio Fast Forward had launched a robot, named Gita that allows pedestrians to walk free by carrying their belongings up to 20-40 pounds.
Military and Defense
Autonomous systems are increasingly being developed and deployed in military and defense applications. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) can be equipped with a variety of sensors and weapons and can perform a range of tasks from surveillance and recon and to attack and defense. They can be programmed to operate in dangerous or hazardous environments that would be too risky for human personnel. For example, they can be used for surveillance and recon missions over a hostile territory without putting human pilots in danger.
There are segments like Construction, Security, Education, Agriculture, and many others where autonomous machines can make a huge impact.
QRB5165 brings next-gen energy-efficient autonomous machines to life with its powerful features along with AI capabilities. It is an ideal chipset for applications from manufacturing and logistics to retail and healthcare. eInfochips can help you in designing future-looking IoAT devices with its end-to-end custom design solutions by leveraging state-of-the-art infra including Hardware, Image Tuning, and Wireless Testing labs.
Let’s make autonomous machines, robots, and drones smarter than ever and ready to take on real-world challenges!