Get ready for the newest innovation coming from Orbbec engineers, to be announced at ROSCon 2017. Rapid growth in the market for mobile robotics is leading to increasing demands for new solutions to robotics navigation. Hardware that’s traditionally used for this function is quite expensive and often over-specified for a specific application. With that in mind, Orbbec has designed a solution based on the Astra Mini series cameras with ROS (Robot Operating System) to fulfill the needs of an all-in-one SLAM navigation system. This new camera array is called the Astra Mini QUAD

Orbbec, aims to exploit the current momentum of the open-source ROS and make a camera/sensor array that is quick, inexpensive, more accessible, and more relevant for third party developers. To this end, the new Astra Mini QUAD & 3D SLAM Navigation system consists of four Astra Mini 3D cameras, with an ultra-wide field of view of 180 degrees horizontally and 45 degrees vertically. The Astra Mini QUAD utilizes the depth data collected from the camera to sense the surroundings and construct a 3D map for self-navigation and object avoidance. The 3D camera array can be built on-top of a fixing plate for a stable base that robotic engineers are accustomed to using.

An optional sensor array is designed to help a robot know and learn its location. Having a robot triangulate where it is can be very challenging. To overcome this obstacle, Orbbec has installed ultrasonic sensors that determine their position in their environment using sound waves which can detect virtually any object, regardless of shape, color, contours, or material. Across from that is the infrared sensor that provides critically needed close range measurement and helps eliminate blind spots for the Astra Mini QUAD. Behind this nimble sensor array, SBCs (Single Board Computers) powered by a ARM processors can run as a host. Onboard IMU can be used to further improve the performance.. By using that IMU and by counting its wheel revolutions, the robot is-able-to keep track of its own location, allowing for autonomous navigation. Orbbec installed these systems to inspire device makers who are looking for a platform that can pack more functionality into their design while boasting a faster and more power efficient robot.

Along with the hardware, Orbbec is developing an ROS plugin for SLAM to launch with the Astra Mini QUAD, which will provide an all-in-one camera array control for your development team. The 3D SLAM Navigation is the brains behind the hardware. This ROS based plugin provides a detailed 3D map for large scenes and supports 3D mapping up to 50mx50m along with closed loop detection. While running the SLAM algorithm, a robot can explore strange terrain, building a map of its surroundings while at the same time positioning, or localizing, itself within that map.

Building the robotic hardware designers need and perfecting the SLAM navigation plugin is a part of Orbbec’s ethos. With the new Astra Mini QUAD and 3D SLAM Navigation system your robot will be navigating the office, home or just about anywhere with ease. Orbbec is providing robotic developers with two powerful instruments to build the robots of the future.

The Astra Mini QUAD and 3D SLAM Navigation system will be officially launching at ROSCon in Vancouver next week, where you’ll be able to get a sneak-peek at one while you’re there. You can speak to an Orbbec representative if you would like to pre-order the Astra Mini QUAD at ROSCon.

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