Orbbec Announces Hiwonder Partnership for NVIDIA Jetson-Powered Educational Edge AI Robots

Featuring Orbbec's depth-sensing camera tech, the JetHexa and JetAuto aim to deliver a robust but affordable platform for education.

3D vision specialist Orbbec has announced a partnership with educational robotics firm Hiwonder to launch its own entries into the market, the JetHexa ROS Hexapod Robot Kit and JetAuto ROS Robot Car — featuring Orbecc's Astra+ depth-sensing camera, connected to an NVIDIA Jetson Nano system-on-module (SOM).

"Our partnership with Hiwonder brings 3D vision and AI [Artificial Intelligence] into the classroom with easy-to-use kits," claims Orbecc's head of platform and partnerships Amit Banerjee, who unveiled the collaboration at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week. "We have a shared goal to make the robotics technology accessible to educators, students and developers for hands-on learning experiences."

The JetHexa ROS Hexapod Robot Kit, as the name implies, provides a a six-legged robotic platform powered by an NVIDIA Jetson Nano B01 system-on-module and carrier board running Ubuntu Linux and the Melodic version of the Robot Operating System (ROS). Serving as the robot's "head" is an Orbecc Astra+ depth-sensing camera, backed up by a hat-like LIDAR sensor capable of rotating through 240 degrees for greater coverage. The robot's servos are driven through an inverse kinematics engine, with a self balancing function to keep it on its feet.

The JetAuto ROS Robot Car, meanwhile, opts for a more traditional four-wheeled vehicular design — albeit with the twist of mecanum wheels, allowing it to move in any direction without having to turn. Its DC motor includes a high-precision magnetic encoder and gearing for high starting torque and smooth speed adjustment, while the Jetson Nano on-board provides support for autonomous driving functionality including line following, road-sign detection, and traffic light recognition.

Both robots are supported by Android and iOS mobile apps, plus a dedicated wireless controller, and include built-in computer vision examples including color recognition and tracking, object and tag tracking, human body and fingertip trajectory recognition, and a six-channel microphone array for sound source localization, voice interaction, and voice navigation. Multiple models can also be linked together to operate in swarm mode, with group control and synchronization.

Orbbec is now taking orders for the JetHexa on its website, at $1,199.99; pricing and availability for the JetAuto have yet to be confirmed. The Astra+ camera is also available on its own, for integration into other projects, at $164.99. The company will be demonstrating all three products at Booth 9745 of the Las Vegas Convention and World Trade Center (LVCC), North Hall, during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2024 this week.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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