Hello, Mr. Roboto: Jetson TK1 Storms Maker Faire Tokyo

by Will Park

What do you get when you bring the world’s most advanced embedded computing platform to the nation with some of the planet’s most advanced robots?

You get mobbed.

At least that was our experience at the NVIDIA booth during Tokyo’s recent Maker Faire.

Amid throngs of researchers, students and engineers, robotics demos took center stage at the two-day event. From bots that walked to bots that crawled to micro bots that glided over attendees’ heads, the show buzzed with excitement from those eager to dip into the world of robotics.

Naturally, we aimed to introduce the power of our Jetson TK1 DevKit to these hundreds of budding roboticists.

Meet TURBO, GE Intelligent Platforms division’s “TK1 Unmanned Reconnaissance Bot”. Its Jetson TK1 DevKit brain relies on stereo cameras to navigate it’s surroundings. In the foreground you’ll see the real-time object-tracking bot – you can see what the robot sees on the big screen in the background.

In doing so, we got a hand from our friends at GE. In a booth mobbed from the moment the show opened its doors, they amazed the crowd with two Jetson TK1-powered robots. They included a tank-like robot named “TURBO” (short for “TK1 Unmanned Reconnaissance Bot”), and a real-time object-tracking rig outfitted with high-speed pan-and-tilt cameras.

TURBO used LIDAR-powered real-time computer vision to detect and avoid collisions. And the object-tracking bot used CUDA algorithms to effortlessly keep its stereo-camera “eyes” on an orange ball that quickly moved through the audience.

Thanks to the power of Jetson’s 192-core Tegra K1 mobile processor, TURBO showed that real-time computer vision isn’t limited to big, energy-hungry computing platforms.

Droves of attendees inspired by TURBO’s autonomous capabilities entered a contest to win a Jetson TK1 DevKit. Many who didn’t win bought their own to get started with CUDA programming and computer vision applications.

Suffice it to say, our Jetson TK1 DevKit wowed the crowd and impressed some of the most advanced roboticists in Japan. Next year’s Maker Faire Tokyo seems so far, far away that we plan to come back to Tokyo soon for more robotics fun.

Until then, so long, Mr. Roboto.

If you’d like to learn more about the Jetson Platform, or the Jetson TK1 DevKit, check out the NVIDIA Embedded Computing developer center.

To learn more about the exciting and world-class tech behind this, check out the post on the Parallel Forall blog written by  Dustin Franklin from GE’s Intelligent Platforms division.