NVIDIA recently announced the release of its Jetson Orin NX 16 GB Module. Designed to increase performance and efficiency for compact, low-power robots, including uncrewed aerial systems, the module is well suited for inspections, delivery, logistics, agriculture, and many other applications.

The smallest module in the Jetson line, the Orin NX provides up to 100 TOPS of AI performance with power configurable between 10 W and 25 W. The module gives users the ability to develop solutions with the largest and most complex AI models in 3D perception, multi-sensor fusion, and even natural language understanding.

To learn more about the Orin NX, Commercial UAV News spoke with Amit Goel, NVIDIA’s Head of Embedded Edge AI Product Management and Robotics Ecosystem. We discussed the module’s key features, how it can work with uncrewed aerial systems, and how customers have reacted to the new product.

Commercial UAV News: What is the Jetson Orin NX 16 GB Module, and how can it impact commercial drone operations?

Goel: Our new NVIDIA Jetson product is essentially a compact computer on a module. We are bringing server-class AI performance down to that small computer with a lot of different hardware accelerators purpose built for robotics applications. It's smaller than a credit card, but it has all the interfaces that you need for connecting the different sensors required for modern applications. It has a lot of different heterogeneous computing elements to it, including an ARM-based CPU, NVIDIA GPU that can process all types of AI models and frameworks, image signal processor for camera, multimedia processors, deep learning accelerator and a vision processor. And it has a relatively small power budget of about 10 to 15 watts for the full system. So, when we talk about using drone applications in commercial environments, the Jetson Orin NX enables processing of all the data that's coming from the different sensors in real time and allows the system to plan and act based on that information.

Commercial UAV News: Can you give us some real-world examples of how the module can assist with drone-based commercial applications?

Goel: The Orin NX can help with many applications, but drone-based delivery is a particularly important one. As you can imagine, sensing and avoiding obstacles is a very challenging aspect of making deliveries in urban environments, and Orin NX provides additional compute capability for these systems to run a diverse set of algorithms to operating safely and efficiently.

Another commercial application that can benefit from the module is inspecting bridges or other similar infrastructure asset inspection. When you're inspecting these assets, the Orin NX can help process higher resolution images, which lets inspectors get better capturing capability and analytics capability to detect even the smallest problems.

Agricultural operations and warehouse inspections can also benefit from the Orin NX module. When you're doing a survey of crops or flying around a warehouse and you don't have a drone that is capable of processing or even capturing all the needed information, you can only get a limited understanding of what's happening. But a drone with the Orin NX allows you to process more sensor data in real time and lets you get individual crop-level information or minute details like serial number of assets in your warehouse.

Commercial UAV News: What has been the drone industry’s response to the Jetson Orin NX 16 GB Module?

Goel: There's a lot of excitement from our customers because the giant leap in performance enables them to innovate and develop new applications that were not possible earlier. What's really interesting here is also that at the same price point of our previous generation, we are offering roughly 5x the improvement with the Orin NX. So, we’re seeing a lot of interest in the product from developers and other customers that use uncrewed systems for their work.