Intel introduces $199 RealSense 3D sensor for robot (and UAV?) SLAM

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Intel announced the RealSense camera in 2014 as an integrated 3D sensor for laptops and tablets. Since then, RealSense has been released in a number of forms—heavily anticipated but ultimately doomed Google smartphones, peripheral add-on devices, and even integrated into drones. Now the company is announcing a totally standalone device called the RealSense T265. Intel is calling it the first of a “new class” of 3D sensor designed to get SLAM onto your autonomous devices for a minimum of cash.

The T265 differs from the other peripheral versions of the RealSense camera in that it combines its sensing payload with “computing at the edge,” or, in layman’s terms, an Intel Movidius Myriad 2 vision processing unit which processes visual data on-board. This integration means you won’t have to integrate it with another computing unit to get SLAM out of it, reducing the size, power consumption, and compute requirements of your payload.

Intel is also touting the “inside-out” tracking approach of the RealSense T265, “which means the device does not rely on any internal sensors to understand the environment.” Evidently, the sensor uses two fish-eye cameras to locate itself—which it says helps the sensor locate itself by using “patterns on the wall or on the floor or on the ceiling.”

It’s important to note that Intel is not marketing the device as a full solution, but as a complement to other RealSense sensors. Pair it with a RealSense D400 series camera “and the data from both devices can be combined for advanced applications like occupancy mapping, improved 3D scanning and advanced navigation and collision avoidance in GPS-restricted environments.”

That’s pretty advanced functionality for $199. The device is already available for pre-order for shipping February 28th.

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Sean Higgins is the former Managing Editor of SPAR3D.com and the SPAR 3D weekly newsletter, which continues to highlight relevant news and information for 3D-scanning professionals. Sean continues to work in the industry, and may sometimes be spotted in attendance at SPAR 3D Expo & Conference. Follow @spar_editor to connect with and learn more about the current voice of SPAR3D.com

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