In­tel’s new hard­ware kits are mak­ing it eas­ier to build robots and drones

In­tel’s Ro­botic De­vel­op­ment Kit and Aero Kit will ship with the RealSense 3D cam­era, writes Agam Shah

PC Advisor - - NEWS ANALYSIS -

In­tel’s key­notes can be fun, with robots parad­ing on stage and drones zigzag­ging around the room. Now the com­pany is mak­ing new hard­ware to help en­thu­si­asts join in the fun by build­ing robots and drones at home.

The Ro­botic De­vel­op­ment Kit and Aero Kit pro­vide the ne­c­es­sary hard­ware and soft­ware tools to build robots and drones, re­spec­tively. The kits were an­nounced at the In­tel De­vel­oper Fo­rum in Shen­zhen, China.

A ma­jor el­e­ment of the de­vel­oper boards is the RealSense 3D cam­era, which will ship with the kits and help the robots and drones nav­i­gate and avoid ob­sta­cles. The depth-sens­ing cam­era can recog­nise items and de­ter­mine the size, shape and con­tours of ob­jects. For robots, the cam­era pro­vides com­puter vi­sion, which is anal­o­gous to eyes in hu­mans.

The Ro­botic De­vel­op­ment Kit is avail­able now for $249 (£195). It has a credit-card-size board from Aaeon, which is equipped with an In­tel Atom x5 Z8350 CPU, an in­ter­nal In­tel HD 400 graphics pro­ces­sor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and 32GB of stor­age. Other fea­tures in­clude an HDMI slot, gi­ga­bit eth­er­net, two USB 2.0 ports, a USB 3.0 port, a cam­era in­ter­face and an eDP (em­bed­ded Dis­playPort) slot to con­nect a display. It also has a 40-pin GPIO (gen­eral pur­pose in­put-out­put) slot to hook up add-on boards that may have sen­sors or other com­po­nents.

The kit will ship with Ubuntu Linux, but will also sup­port Win­dows 10 and other ver­sions of Win­dows.

The Aero Plat­form is a “ready-to-fly de­vel­oper plat­form,” an In­tel spokesman said in an email. It has an In­tel Atom x7-Z8700 pro­ces­sor, DDR3L RAM, and flash stor­age, and will run a ver­sion of em­bed­ded Linux. Full de­tails and price aren’t yet avail­able, but it will ship in the sec­ond half of this year.

The hard­ware is part of In­tel’s ef­fort to di­ver­sify out­side PCs into new ar­eas. It’s also an ef­fort to pro­vide do-it-your­selfers with the re­sources to de­velop a wide range of gad­gets, ap­pli­ances, and smart home and in­dus­trial equip­ment.

Ro­bot­ics has be­come an im­por­tant ed­u­ca­tional tool, and other com­pa­nies are also pay­ing at­ten­tion. Ama­zon paid $775 mil­lion for in­dus­trial au­toma­tion com­pany Kiva Sys­tems, and it wants to de­liver prod­ucts us­ing drones. Google has also in­vested in ro­bot­ics com­pa­nies.

NVidia’s Jet­son TX1 de­vel­op­ment board is al­ready be­com­ing pop­u­lar for build­ing drones and robots. The most soft­ware-friendly ro­bot­ics and drone de­vel­op­ment board is Qual­comm’s DragonBoard 410c, which sup­ports Win­dows 10 IoT Core, em­bed­ded Linux and ROS (Ro­bot­ics Op­er­at­ing Sys­tem), the most widely used ro­bot­ics OS.

In­tel sells de­vel­op­ment boards for £12.50 to build wear­ables, elec­tron­ics and IoT de­vices. Those de­vel­oper boards are mainly based on the com­pany’s Quark pro­ces­sors.

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