Nvidia cosies up to Open Robotics for hardware-accelerated ROS

Hopes to tempt roboticists over to its Jetson platform with new simulation features, drop-in acceleration code


Nvidia has linked up with Open Robotics to drive new artificial intelligence capabilities in the Robot Operating System (ROS).

The non-exclusive agreement will see Open Robotics extending ROS 2, the latest version of the open-source robotics framework, to better support Nvidia hardware – and in particular its Jetson range, low-power parts which combine Arm cores with the company's own GPU and deep-learning accelerator cores to drive edge and embedded artificial intelligence applications.

"Our users have been building and simulating robots with Nvidia hardware for years, and we want to make sure that ROS 2 and Ignition work well on those platforms," Brian Gerkey, Open Robotics' chief exec, told The Register.

"We get most excited by two things: robots and open source. This partnership has both. We're working together with Nvidia to improve the developer experience for the global robotics community by extending the open source software on which roboticists rely. We're excited to work directly with Nvidia and have their support as we extend our software to take maximum advantage of their hardware."

The team-up will see Open Robotics working on ROS to improve the data flow between the various processors – CPU, GPU, NVDLA, and Tensor Cores – on Nvidia's Jetson hardware as a means to boost processing of high-bandwidth data.

As part of that, Open Robotics' Ignition and Nvidia's Isaac Sim simulation environments are to gain interoperability – meaning robot and environment models can be moved from one to the other, at least when the software is finished some time early next year.

As for why Nvidia's accelerated computing portfolio, and in particular its embedded Jetson family of products, should appeal to robot-makers, Gerkey said: "Nvidia has invested heavily in compute hardware that's relevant for modern robotics and AI workloads. Robots ingest and process large data volumes from sensors such as cameras and lasers. Nvidia's architecture allows that data flow to happen incredibly efficiently."

Murali Gopalakrishna, head of product management, Intelligent Machines, at Nvidia said of the hookup: "Nvidia's GPU-accelerated computing platform is at the core of many AI robot applications and many of those are developed using ROS, so it is logical that we work closely with open robotics to advance the field of robotics.

The work also brings with it some new Isaac GEMs, hardware-accelerated packages for ROS designed to replace code which would otherwise run on the CPU. The latest GEMs include packages for handling stereo imaging and point cloud data, colour space conversion, lens distortion correction, and the detection and processing of AprilTags – QR Code-style 2D fiducial tags developed at the University of Michigan.

The partnership doesn't mean the two are going steady, though. "We are eager to extend ROS 2 in similar ways on other accelerated hardware," Gerkey told us of planned support for other devices like Intel's Myriad X and Google's TPU – to say nothing of GPU hardware from Nvidia rival AMD.

"In fact, we plan for the work we do together with Nvidia to lay the foundation for additional extensions for additional architectures. To other hardware manufacturers: please contact us to talk about extensions for your platform!"

The latest Isaac GEMs are available on Nvidia's GitHub repository now; the interoperable simulation environments, meanwhile, aren't expected to release until the (northern hemisphere) spring of 2022.

Nvidia's Gopalakrishna said it was possible for ROS developers to begin experimenting before the release date. "The simulator already has a ROS 1 and ROS 2 bridge and has examples of using many of the popular ROS packages for navigation (nav2) and manipulation (MoveIT). Many of these developers are also leveraging Isaac Sim to generate synthetic data to train the perception stack in their robots. Our spring release will bring additional functionality like interoperability between Gazebo Ignition and Isaac Sim."

When we asked what performance uplift could users expect from the new Isaac GEMs compared to CPU-only packages, we were told: "The amount of performance gain will vary depending on how much inherent parallelism exists in a given workload. But we can say that we are seeing an order of magnitude increase in performance for perception and AI related workloads. By using the appropriate processor to accelerate the different tasks, we see increased performance and better power efficiency."

As for additional features in the pipeline, Gopalakrishna said: "Nvidia is working with Open Robotics to make the ROS framework more streamlined for hardware acceleration and we will also continue to release multiple new Isaac GEMs, our hardware accelerated software packages for ROS.

"Some of these will be DNNs which are commonly used in robotics perception stacks. On the simulator side, we are working to add support for more sensors and robots and release more samples that are relevant to the ROS community." ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Developers offered browser-based fun in VSCode.dev and Java action in Visual Studio Code

    Looking at code here, there and (almost) everywhere

    Microsoft has whipped the covers off yet another take on code-in-the-browser with a lightweight version of Visual Studio Code, while unveiling the version 1.0 release of support for Red Hat Java in the freebie source wrangler.

    It comes after last month's preview of the code editor that runs entirely in the browser, and will doubtless have some users pondering the difference between this and Microsoft-owned GitHub's github.dev, which also pops a development environment into the browser. One of the biggest of those differences is a lack of compulsory integration with the VS source-shack; this is unavoidable with github.dev (the clue is, after all, in the URL.)

    VSCode.dev, on the other hand, will permit the opening up of a file from a local device (if the browser allows it and supports the File System Access API) in what looks for all the world like an instance of Visual Studio Code, except surrounded by the gubbins of a browser.

    Continue reading
  • No swearing or off-brand comments: AWS touts auto-moderation messaging API

    Automate everything – but while human moderation is hard, robot moderation tends not to work

    AWS has introduced channel flows to its Chime messaging and videoconferencing API, the idea being to enable automatic moderation of profanity or content that "does not fit" the corporate brand.

    Although Amazon Chime has a relatively small market share in the crowded videoconferencing market, the Chime SDK is convenient for developers building applications that include videoconferencing or messaging, competing with SDKs and services from the likes of Twilio or Microsoft's Azure Communication Services. In other words, this is aimed mainly at corporate developers building applications or websites that include real-time messaging, audio or videoconferencing.

    The new feature is for real-time text chat rather than video and is called messaging channel flows. It enables developers to create code that intercepts and processes messaging before they are delivered. The assumption is that this processing code will run on AWS Lambda, its serverless platform.

    Continue reading
  • UK government puts £5bn on the table in trawl for public sector networks services

    I dream of wires, say Whitehall’s big buyers

    The UK's central government procurement agency is chumming the waters around the market's swimmers, hoping to tempt suppliers into providing a range of computer network services and kit with a £5bn tender.

    The buying spree, which will officially begin when a framework agreement starts in fiscal 2023, involves a large spread of hardware, software and services around IT networks. Included are categories such as networking, internet and intranet software packages, network interfaces, network operating system software development services and so on.

    Crown Commercial Service, the cross-government buying organisation that sits within the Cabinet Office, has launched what is known as a "prior information notice" to start talking to suppliers before it forms the official competition to be on the framework: a group of contracted suppliers from which a huge number of public sector bodies can buy.

    Continue reading
  • Informatica UKI veep was rightfully sacked over Highways England $5k golf jolly, says tribunal

    Underling took customer on bucket list trip - and VP signed it off without checking

    Informatica's former UK & Ireland vice president was correctly sacked after letting a salesman take Highways England's executive IT director on a $5,000 golfing jaunt, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled.

    Not only did Derek Thompson breach Informatica's anti-corruption policies but he also warned underlings to "be discreet" about the jolly – and told HR investigators "Why does anyone do any customer entertainment?" when asked how playing golf benefited the business.

    Thompson lost his appeal against a judge's earlier ruling [PDF] that his October 2017 sacking was reasonable, with the Employment Appeal Tribunal publishing its judgment [PDF] last week.

    Continue reading
  • Boeing's Starliner capsule corroded due to high humidity levels, NASA explains, and the spaceship won't fly this year

    Meanwhile Elon's running orbital tourist trips and ISS crew missions

    Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule, designed to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, will not fly until the first half of next year at the earliest, as the manufacturing giant continues to tackle an issue with the spacecraft’s valves.

    Things have not gone smoothly for Boeing. Its Starliner program has suffered numerous setbacks and delays. Just in August, a second unmanned test flight was scrapped after 13 of 24 valves in the spacecraft’s propulsion system jammed. In a briefing this week, Michelle Parker, chief engineer of space and launch at Boeing, shed more light on the errant components.

    Boeing believes the valves malfunctioned due to weather issues, we were told. Florida, home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where the Starliner is being assembled and tested, is known for hot, humid summers. Parker explained that the chemicals from the spacecraft’s oxidizer reacted with water condensation inside the valves to form nitric acid. The acidity corroded the valves, causing them to stick.

    Continue reading
  • Research finds consumer-grade IoT devices showing up... on corporate networks

    Considering the slack security of such kit, it's a perfect storm

    Increasing numbers of "non-business" Internet of Things devices are showing up inside corporate networks, Palo Alto Networks has warned, saying that smart lightbulbs and internet-connected pet feeders may not feature in organisations' threat models.

    According to Greg Day, VP and CSO EMEA of the US-based enterprise networking firm: "When you consider that the security controls in consumer IoT devices are minimal, so as not to increase the price, the lack of visibility coupled with increased remote working could lead to serious cybersecurity incidents."

    The company surveyed 1,900 IT decision-makers across 18 countries including the UK, US, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia, finding that just over three quarters (78 per cent) of them reported an increase in non-business IoT devices connected to their org's networks.

    Continue reading
  • Huawei appears to have quenched its thirst for power in favour of more efficient 5G

    Never mind the performance, man, think of the planet

    MBB Forum 2021 The "G" in 5G stands for Green, if the hours of keynotes at the Mobile Broadband Forum in Dubai are to be believed.

    Run by Huawei, the forum was a mixture of in-person event and talking heads over occasionally grainy video and kicked off with an admission by Ken Hu, rotating chairman of the Shenzhen-based electronics giant, that the adoption of 5G – with its promise of faster speeds, higher bandwidth and lower latency – was still quite low for some applications.

    Despite the dream five years ago, that the tech would link up everything, "we have not connected all things," Hu said.

    Continue reading
  • What is self-learning AI and how does it tackle ransomware?

    Darktrace: Why you need defence that operates at machine speed

    Sponsored There used to be two certainties in life - death and taxes - but thanks to online crooks around the world, there's a third: ransomware. This attack mechanism continues to gain traction because of its phenomenal success. Despite admonishments from governments, victims continue to pay up using low-friction cryptocurrency channels, emboldening criminal groups even further.

    Darktrace, the AI-powered security company that went public this spring, aims to stop the spread of ransomware by preventing its customers from becoming victims at all. To do that, they need a defence mechanism that operates at machine speed, explains its director of threat hunting Max Heinemeyer.

    According to Darktrace's 2021 Ransomware Threat Report [PDF], ransomware attacks are on the rise. It warns that businesses will experience these attacks every 11 seconds in 2021, up from 40 seconds in 2016.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021