Usually when we think of Intel, we think of them as a maker of CPUs, and until recently, “the” maker of CPUs, with most people not really aware of the other business dealings that Intel has, with the more savvy of us thinking of, perhaps, the production of baseline motherboards for their CPUs to be socketed into, and the production of extremely high end Optane storage modules for use in situations where a system has to deal with many sequential operations – something that ordinary drives typically have problems handling, but it may come as a surprise to many that Intel is positioning itself to be a major player in the autonomous vehicle sector.
They have achieved this with their RealSense product line, a line of devices that are designed to provide machines with depth perception and movement tracking, through the use of modules and stereo infrared tracking, supported by a cross-platform open source software development kit (SDK), simplifying the development of machines that are able to decide on their own how to get from A to B, even in situations where a GPS signal is not available.
Recently, Intel announced that their RealSense product line, last updated last January, will be joined by their brand new RealSense Tracking Camera T265, which will be released with an MSRP of $199 with a planned shipping date of February 28. The RealSense Tracking Camera T265, which claims to improve on prior generations of tracking cameras by providing more precise measurements at low latencies (Intel claims that the camera boasts sub 6ms latency), appears to be the perfect solution for everything from self-driving cars, to autonomous drones, for example, a landscaping or farming robot, capable of mapping a property and finding an efficient path to mow lawns or care for and harvest plants while identifying and avoiding obstacles on its own; to delivery robots – something large companies like Amazon are developing to cut down on both delivery costs and delivery times.
Another big advantage that the T265 has is its form factor – coming in at only 55g, and drawing only 1.5W of power while not requiring any external sensors (it is an inside-out tracking device), it is not a difficult component to fit into a build, even one with demanding power and mass requirements.
While the RealSense Tracking Camera T265 isn’t really a budget item – it’s probably expensive enough that a lot of hobbyists won’t want to shell out for one (though it’s cheap enough that some certainly will buy it) – its price point is low enough for it to be easy for organizations to justify the cost of including it in machines that need to be able to determine where they are and move on their own, as the up-front cost of including Intel’s cameras would almost certainly be eclipsed by the research and development costs associated with the planning and development of a similar, proprietary product.
In conclusion, Intel’s RealSense line of products are well-suited for the production of autonomous machines, which, while not common today, will likely be a technology that we rely on in our day-to-day lives in the future, and the new Tracking Camera T265 improves on the existing line by being a small, light package with very low power requirements at a decent price point. We are excited to see what the future will bring.