New Volta companion computer for Pixhawk brings computer vision, more

This new companion computer from Volta costs just $299 but brings a huge amount of power to Pixhawk-based drones. It's designed to compete with the DJI Manifold at a lower price, and it's open source. OpenCV-based computer vision, streaming HD video, 4G wireless and a 30-second installation with Pixhawk.  Impressive! 

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Comment by Pete Hollands on January 11, 2016 at 2:00am

The DJI Manifold will run accelerated deep learning. But will the Volta ?

The DJI Manifold runs a tweaked version of Ubuntu and has a GPU supported by deep learning tools such as  Caffe, Theano, Torch etc.
So it has a large amount of open source (The slide above puts a question mark). Also, the slide above does not show the DJI Manifold running MAVproxy. But as the Manifold runs Ubuntu, it will run MAVproxy.

A key question is whether the Volta GPU is going to be supported by the main deep learning tools. I can find no support from Caffe, Theano, or Torch for accleration via the  MALI T628 GPU on the Arm chip used by the Volta. If someone else can see that, then I would love to know. 

This DIY Drones discussion, is looking  at how to put a GPU that supports accelerated deep learning in a plane or copter.

Here is a link to Nvidia's Drive PX2 presentation at CES2016 to show where the deep learning technology is moving in relations to driver assisted cars, which will move down to planes and copters as the tech is miniaturised.

Comment by Serge Contal on January 11, 2016 at 3:17am

Ouch, a fan ? Never ever ever use a fan in a small and dense product with LTE or other radios.

Come on, this is on board of a plane/multirotor, a simple heatsink should be enough given the airspeed that flows in the structures !

Comment by Aldo Vargas on January 11, 2016 at 3:30am

Is this not just an odroid XU-4??

I have one and I payed 80 usd for it...

Comment by Nicholas Witham on January 11, 2016 at 4:24am

@Aldo, but it has a cool looking case.

Comment by benbojangles on January 11, 2016 at 4:41am

If the later odroids adopt a kickass GPU, it will be super impressive. Most people (me included) who want a companion computer want to experiment with caffe/object ID, SLAM, 3D. I find the TK1 super useful, but the form factor of the Odroid is better. 

Better still would be something life the 3DR solo companion computer with added mini pcie slot & HDMI -in.

Comment by Jiro Hattori on January 11, 2016 at 5:03am

Total hardware cost will be around $100.-   You can buy even a nice case as well.


Imagine the setup complexity for all software on Volta, this will take additional cost.

But, I hope Vota to shrink the gap significantly :-) 

Comment by steve foy on January 11, 2016 at 8:18am
I cannot see the version of openCV on Volta, But for Deep Learning opencv 3.1.0 has now cv::dnn::createCaffeImporter and cv::dnn::createTorchImporter if your want to use caffe,torch. Dense Optical Flow is main requirement for drone functionality 2016. If Volta was integrated in a similar pcb layout as PX4FLOW(>MT9V034 imager). Cost needs to shrink to be a runner do.
Comment by Thomas Stone on January 11, 2016 at 9:09am


Nice work on advancing the companion computer integration (and 4G communication!). We are counting on you. :) 

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on January 11, 2016 at 10:36am

I think the additions over the standard Odroid are 1) software setup wizard and pre-installed tools, 2) Enclosure, 3) Pixhawk-compatible cable. 

Comment by Volta Robots on January 11, 2016 at 11:45am

4Gmetry III is built on a well known, commecially available computer (as Manifold is): this makes sense now and in the future, to mantain the prices low. 

We’ve done our homework: a turnkey companion for Pixhawk. We take care of every detail and of all the annoying parts so that the final user can enjoy this wanderful “second brain” simply plug&play.

Obviuosly one can do all the work DIY at a slightly lower cost; we’re happy when this happens! We don't forget that our roots are in this amazing DIY group! (where you can find a 10% discount coupon and a lot of support).


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