These days, the smartphone you carry around in your pocket is capable of some pretty impressive feats. You can connect instantly with people all around the world, take charge of your health and fitness goals, or even capture and share life’s best moments in vivid 4K Ultra HD video. But you may not know that the same Qualcomm Snapdragon processor that makes all of that possible is now “smart” enough to be the brains of a robot.
We believe that robotics can be brought to a whole new level by using highly integrated and optimized heterogeneous mobile compute platforms. To that end, we’re proud to announce Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight, a next-generation development platform designed to help manufacturers build the future of consumer robots and drones.
The platform has been specifically designed for the rapidly growing consumer drone segment, providing a highly integrated board based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor. The integration enables superior processing power per unit of weight (MIPS/gram), along with capabilities such as 4K Ultra HD video, computer vision, communication, navigation, and real-time flight assistance.
The integrated design is engineered to reduce the size, weight, and power consumption leading to longer flight times and additional safety. Qualcomm Research, the R&D arm of Qualcomm Technologies, has taken this platform from idea to prototype to product.
Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight was announced at the Qualcomm: Accelerating Robotics event, where Matt Grob, CTO of Qualcomm Technologies, shared our vision for robotics with investors, media, and analysts. Hugo Swart, senior director of product management, made the announcement, followed by a live demo of the Snapdragon Flight reference drone—one of the world’s smallest 4K flying cameras that showcases the power of Snapdragon Flight.
The event also marked the culmination of Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator, powered by Techstars--a four-month mentorship program designed to help 10 robotics start-up companies take their ideas to the next level. The event included a Demo Day where each of the 10 companies pitched their ideas to investors and media.
Over the last few years, Qualcomm Research, has released an array of different rolling and flying robots that showcase the ways in which mobile technologies can be harnessed as essential accelerators for the evolution of robotics. It began with an initiative geared toward DIY robot enthusiasts: The Snapdragon Micro Rover is a 3D-printable robot that uses a smartphone as the brains to control the robot.
The Micro Rover was followed by the Snapdragon Rover—a toy-sorting robot that uses computer vision and machine learning, which allows it to be taught where certain toys should be placed, so that it can ultimately do so autonomously. The team then expanded the scope of machine learning on the Snapdragon Rover to include facial recognition and tracking, enabling the Rover to identify someone and follow that person. This ability will enable service robots to identify customers and provide more personalized customer service.
Then, debuting at CES 2015, Snapdragon Cargo—a rolling and flying robot engineered to roll up to and pick up an object, and then fly away—all while using a computer vision technique called “depth-from-stereo” to understand its surroundings and map its environment.
Also this year, the robotics team inside Qualcomm Research designed a new technology platform for the FIRST Tech Challenge, featuring robot and driver-station controls using devices powered by Snapdragon 410 processors.
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Qualcomm Snapdragon and Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. Qualcomm Research is a division of Qualcomm Technologies Inc. Snapdragon Rover, Snapdragon Cargo and Snapdragon Micro Rover are Qualcomm Research initiatives.