New AMD starter kit aims to accelerate robotics development

It has been a little over a year since Xilinx launched its Kria adaptive system-on-module (SoM) product family, an embedded board solution aimed at helping developers to accelerate creation of applications aimed at specific industry use cases. That product launch was accompanied by a starter kit to help developers get a leg up on vision AI applications.

This week, Xilinx, now under the corporate wing of AMD, has a new starter kit aimed at robotics developers working with the Kria SoMs. The KR260 Starter Kit is an “out-of-the-box” development platform for roboticists and others involved in creating hardware-accelerated robotics applications, and speeds their productivity, delivering up to a 5x productivity gain over competing GPU-based solutions from Nvidia, claimed Chetan Khona, senior director of Industrial, Vision, Healthcare and Sciences Markets at AMD.

The kit provides access to the Kria Robotics Stack (KRS), an integrated set of robot libraries and utilities that use hardware to accelerate the development, maintenance and commercialization of industrial-grade robotic solutions targeting Kria SOMs. KRS is compliant with the Open Robotics Robotic Operating System 2 (ROS 2), a framework of software libraries that also is designed to speed development of robotics applications. Using Kria SoMs and KRS with ROS 2 can help enable as much as 8x better performance per watt and up to 3.5x lower latency than competing solutions, Khona said.

“We think that our approach solves the biggest problem that the robotics community has, it unleashes roboticists from having to make… entire bespoke systems, and enables them to start scaling their expertise and being more prolific with getting their robotic designs out and into production,” Khona said.

The new starter kit arrives at a time when Omdia has forecasted that the robotics components market to grow at a 20.4% compound annual growth rate between 2019 and 2025, with the overall world markets revenue to increase to about $126 billion by 2025.

The need to increase automation in factory settings has been present for some time, but worker shortages in many sectors have only intensified that need. With the resulting growing presence of robotic systems in these factories, the robots themselves can act as important hubs for collection of data not only from the robots, but also from other IoT-connected devices and sensors inside those factories, Khona said. That data and the subsequent analysis can enable dynamic and adaptable management of smart factories.

“Robots, which are increasingly connected wirelessly with some of the new 5G industrial profiles that are being rolled out, are best suited to capture status from various places throughout the factory, and then share that information between themselves, and also to the cloud and other management systems,” he said. “In a nutshell, what we're seeing is a factory where walls are fixed, but everything else is adaptable, and we think that robots are a key enabler of this connected, autonomous, higher-performance, higher-efficiency factory that our customers are really driving toward.”

The KR260 kit is priced at $349, and is immediately available. It follows last year’s release of the KV260 Vision AI Starter Kit for enabling faster development of vision applications, and there likely will be more kits to come that will target different types of developers and applications, Khona said. The company also is making new robotics-targeted applications available via its app store, which also launched last year. AMD is showcasing its Kria products at this week’s 2022 Embedded Vision Summit in Santa Clara, California.

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