For robots with multi-jointed arms, motion planning is a problem that requires time-consuming computation. Simply picking an object up in an environment that has not been pre-engineered for the robot may require several seconds of computation. Duke University researchers have introduced a specially designed computer processor for motion planning that can plan up to 10,000 times faster than existing approaches while consuming a small fraction of the power.
The new processor is fast enough to plan and operate in real time, and power-efficient enough to be used in large-scale manufacturing environments with thousands of robots. The processor's speed and power efficiency could create many opportunities for automation.