E-Commerce Giants Select NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier for Next-Gen Delivery Robots

JD.com and Meituan adopt NVIDIA AI computing platform to meet big processing demands.
by Kristin Uchiyama

Leading China e-commerce companies JD.com and Meituan have selected the NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier platform to power their next-generation autonomous delivery robots.

Over the past decade, China’s e-commerce has grown to represent more than 40 percent of the world’s online transactions —accounting for hundreds of billions of dollars in trade annually. That’s larger than the combined total in the U.S., Japan, Germany, UK, and France, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.

To support this tremendous growth, China’s leading e-commerce companies are developing AI delivery robots to move goods to and from warehouses, speed up last-mile deliveries and deliver products to consumers and businesses.

Requirements for Next-Gen Delivery Robots

Next-generation delivery robots require massive computing performance in a small package. Various sensors, including multiple high-resolution cameras and lidar, must perceive the world around them to localize, path plan and move in complex, dynamic, city environments. They need to identify — and respond to — pedestrians, cars, traffic lights, signs and other objects, all in real time.

Jetson AGX Xavier is perfect for that. High performance and energy efficient, it handles real-time processing of all of these computing tasks, so that delivery robots can perform safely and autonomously. Capable of up to 32 trillion operations per second, the module delivers the processing capability of a powerful workstation with greater than 10x the energy efficiency of its predecessor yet fits in the palm of your hand.

Since autonomous machines like delivery robots are software-defined, it’s easy to improve performance and add more functionalities through updates. The Jetson AGX Xavier platform comes with the NVIDIA JetPack SDK, a full AI development software solution, which includes the latest versions of CUDA, cuDNN and TensorRT, as well as high-level software code to simplify and accelerate development.

JD.com: Autonomously Moving Goods Into Neighborhoods

JD.com is China’s largest retailer, with more than 300 million active customers and the largest in-house e-commerce logistics network covering 99% of the population. It’s the first e-commerce company in the world to launch a fully-automated B2C fulfillment center and commercially deployed drone delivery. To satisfy growing delivery demands, JD.com began trials of autonomous delivery robots last year on university and business campuses.

JD’s delivery robot is outfitted with multiple high-definition sensors connected to a Jetson AGX Xavier to provide 360-degree real-time vision and perception processing for full situational awareness of the environment. By doing this, the delivery robot can easily navigate crowded streets, autonomously plan its route to customers, avoid obstacles, and recognize traffic lights.

“Our delivery robots need a platform that has significant computing power and can interface with different types of sensors to safely drive outdoors in dynamic and unstructured environments, along with interacting with humans,” said Qi Kong, who leads development of JD.com’s robotics efforts. “This is why we selected Jetson AGX Xavier — a first-of-its-kind platform for autonomous machines.”

Meituan: Enabling Food on the Move Through AI

Meituan Dianping is the world’s largest on-demand food delivery company. Combining the business models of Uber Eats, Yelp and Groupon, it works with more than 400,000 local businesses. Meituan Dianping launched its Xiaodai (meaning “pouch”) autonomous delivery vehicle to move meals from restaurants to consumers.

Xiaodai is being tested in three locations, including Joy City Mall in Beijing’s Chaoyang District, Lenovo’s offices in Shenzhen, and the city of Xiong’an.

While the delivery vehicle has a small size and battery, the amount of processing required for sensing, positioning and planning is the same as large unmanned vehicles and relies heavily on high-performance computing from Jetson AGX Xavier.

“Unmanned delivery vehicles are vital to the development of the logistics industry, which can greatly improve distribution and delivery,” said Xiahua Xia, general manager at Meituan. “We’re looking forward to leveraging Jetson AGX Xavier’s powerful AI capabilities to advance our Xiaodai autonomous delivery robot.”

NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier Developer Kit Delivers

The NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier developer kit is available now for $1,299. Attendees of GTC China, where these delivery robots and more are on display this week, can purchase the kits onsite through local distributor Synnex.

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