R-24 and GTC 2024: A look back at recent robotics events

Mobile Robot Guide editorial director Eugene Demaitre recently returned from the R-24 international robotics event in Odense, Denmark. From there, he immediately headed out to San Jose, Calif., to attend NVIDIA GTC 2024 with senior editor Mike Oitzman.

In this episode, Gene and Mike talk about what Gene saw and learned during his latest visit to Odense. From there, the co-hosts discuss their experiences at the GTC event, and all of the interesting sessions on artificial intelligence and robotics, NVIDIA’s product announcements for robotics, and the demonstrations by vendors that exhibited on the busy show floor.

R-24 demonstrates Danish robotics strength

  • Odense Robotics is one of the largest robotics clusters in the world, with 350 members across Denmark, about half of which are in the Odense area.
  • It employs about 18,000 people, with plans to double that over the next decade. Local leaders attributed that to a culture of collaboration.
  • Among the interesting things the international delegations saw around R-24 was Odense Port, which is now building giant wind turbines in addition to maintaining container ships.
  • They also visited the drone test center at the Hans Christian Andersen Airport; the Danish Technological Institute, which hosts the Odense Robotics Startup Fund; and the Maersk-McKinney Moller Institute at the University of Southern Denmark, as well as Universal Robots headquarters.
  • Odense is also hosting ROSCon later this year.

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Highlights from GTC 2024

In addition to CEO Jensen Huang’s keynote, here are some highlights from NVIDIA‘s latest GPU Technology Conference:

NVIDIA launches foundation model for humanoids

The big news from the robotics side of the house was that NVIDIA launched a new general-purpose foundation model for humanoid robots called Project GR00T. This new model is designed to bring robotics and embodied AI together while enabling the robots to understand natural language and emulate movements by observing human actions.

Project GR00T uses the new Jetson Thor

As part of its robotics announcements, NVIDIA unveiled Jetson Thor for humanoid robots, based on the NVIDIA Thor system-on-a-chip (SoC). Significant upgrades to the NVIDIA Isaac robotics platform include generative AI foundation models and tools for simulation and AI workflow infrastructure.

The Thor SoC includes a next-generation GPU based on NVIDIA Blackwell architecture with a transformer engine delivering 800 teraflops of 8-bit floating-point AI performance. With an integrated functional safety processor, a high-performance CPU cluster, and 100GB of Ethernet bandwidth, it can simplify design and integration efforts, claimed the company.

NVIDIA updates Isaac simulation platform

The Isaac tools that GR00T uses are capable of creating new foundation models for any robot embodiment in any environment, according to NVIDIA. Among these tools are Isaac Lab for reinforcement learning, and OSMO, a compute orchestration service.

NVIDIA DRIVE Thor replaces Orin for autonomous driving

The company also announced NVIDIA DRIVE Thor, which now supersedes NVIDIA DRIVE Orin as a SoC for autonomous driving applications.

Other notable sessions (worth watching the replays):

  • Geordie Rose, CEO of Sanctuary: “Using Omniverse to generate first-person experiential data for humanoid robots”
  • Aaron Saunders, chief technology officer of Boston Dynamics: “Deploying AI in real-world robots”
  • Vincent Vanhouke, senior director of robotics at Google Deepmind: “Robotics in the age of GenAI”

Interesting robots seen at GTC24:

  • Agility DIGIT (static)
  • Apptronik Apollo (static)
  • Unitree H1
  • 1X Eve
  • Fourier Analysis – GR1
  • Disney BD-X droids
  • ANYbotics ANYmal
  • Enchanted Tools Mirokai
  • Richtech Robotics ADAM
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Automated Warehouse staff