Free Roaming Surfboard, Autonomous Flying Machines, Package Delivery Bots Swarm GPU Technology Conference

by Tony Kontzer

Some fly. Some swim. Others roam your streets. Our GPU Technology Conference is crawling this week with autonomous machines.

Powered by our Jetson TX1 embedded computing modules, these autonomous vehicles often boast superhuman levels of perception.

They’re positioned to take advantage of powerful GPU-accelerated servers that — connected to this new breed of machines through the cloud — can help them learn from what they find at an incredible rate.

Flying Business Class

Even before walking into the San Jose Convention Center, GTC attendees come across a large netted area where Percepto, an Israel-based startup, is demonstrating its autonomous drones for enterprises.

CEO Dor Abuhasira said the tasks drones can perform for large companies — think everything from building security to mail delivery — makes the enterprise market a promising one.

Judging from the crowd of GTC attendees clamoring to ask him about potential applications, he may be onto something.

Robotic Tricycles

Meanwhile, on the show exhibition floor, there’s an autonomous tricycle designed by a group of MIT grad students.

One of those students, Abhishek Agarwal, says the first market his team is targeting is the nation of Andorra, where Spanish and French shoppers flock to outdoor markets. His team sees the trikes as a way for shoppers, and their packages, to get around safely.

Surf’s Up

There’s also an autonomous ocean-going vehicle from Liquid Robotics, called the Wave Glider, that’s essentially a very well equipped surfboard with sensors beneath it. The idea is to help scientists take measurements of the ocean without human involvement.

Slightly less eye-catching, but perhaps most practical, is the ironically named Starship, a six-wheeled, autonomous, package-delivery vehicle that looks like a robotic cooler.

Designed to get packages the last mile to homes and businesses, the vehicle runs on sidewalks and moves at the speed of pedestrians, sidestepping the legal obstacles to operating on roads. Its wheels allow it to step up or down curbs.

The brainchild of Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, Starship (which is also the company’s name) has begun piloting its vehicle in London, and it has plans to produce 2,000 units in 2017, said Lauri Vain, vice president of engineering.

Too Big to Steal

When an interested attendee asked what would stop people from stealing them, Vain noted that not only is the vehicle designed to be heavy, it’s equipped with sensors that would make it impossible for someone to take one anonymously.