New Part Day: Mapping With RealSense Cameras For $200

Robot cars, DIY or otherwise, are hot right now. To do this right, you’re going to need cameras, LIDAR, or some other way of sensing the the world. Intel is again getting into the fray with a RealSense tracking camera for simultaneous localization and mapping for robotics, drone, and augmented reality needs.

The tech specs for the Intel RealSense T265 are impressive for small robotics uses. It includes 6DoF tracking gathered by two cameras, each with a 170° FoV. Connection to a computer is through USB 2.0 or 3.0. If you want to get an idea of how seriously Intel is taking the ‘robotics, and other power- and weight-limited platforms’ market, here’s a sample of what is on the one-page spec sheet: the T265 only uses 1.5 Watts, weighs 55 grams, and is 108 x 25 x 13 mm. There are also two M3 taps spaced 50mm apart on the back, which is an astonishing spec to publish on the product landing page. Simply the fact that the location and dimensions of the mounting holes is so prominent gives you an idea of how seriously Intel is taking robotics and prototyping applications.

This new SLAM camera complements Intel’s other tracking camera offerings, including those we’ve seen at Maker Faires past. It’s a competitor to the new crop of solid state LIDAR modules we’ve seen pop up recently. It’s not a Kinect, but we’re years past using a first-gen Kinect for robotics applications. Now, everything is custom chips and SLAM processing, and the RealSense T265 is the smallest platform to do that now.

12 thoughts on “New Part Day: Mapping With RealSense Cameras For $200

  1. Nothing. I’ve been burnt on Intel hardware for makers. They’ve had showstopper bugs and ignored the community. And their previous platforms have been throwaways. I can’t trust them if I incorporate parts from any of their lines.

    Now, ST, Microchip or others? Their lines are stable, well published, and we know when EoL happens and what supersedes those parts. I can include their stuff in my BoM.

    I know I’m hatin’ on Intel. But I think it’s a good reason.

    1. I don’t think I’ve used an Intel part since the 8051.
      – multiple power supplies
      – restrictive NDA to get pecs
      – unenthusiastic about low volume users (and not available through distribution)
      – discontinued without warning

    2. kinda hard to call it hate when its true.
      They push out hardware without even basic documentation on their web sites, at price points higher than their competitors with similar spec hardware, do a pretty good job at promoting at maker fair type events but pretty much ignore everywhere else, then cancel the product before it ever has a chance to catch on.
      I just dont get their business model in the maker market. its senseless. I know people in that division who really work hard to promote the products and evangelize products only to be shut down, rinsed and repeated.
      I think the higher ups just dont have a favorable attitude towards the small volume and maker market. Really its the small volume product makers they are actually after with these products. I think they see themselves as an embedible solution for low volume manufacturers, and the makers are just an entry point (some of them will become companies making products), much the same way certain companies only care to give hardware and software discounts to students/schools in the hopes they will become lifelong addicts of their products.
      The difference is that intel seems not smart enough to know what even the dumbest drug dealer knows: interested customers means nothing if you cant supply the product.

  2. I agree with the above poster. Unless Intel sells 5 million units in the (quarter of the) first year, some management twit will consider it a failed product and drop it like a red hot brick. No sense getting excited, because it’ll be out of support (if there ever was such a thing) before you can even get your hands on one.

    1. Only advantage here is that certainly shops will order stock. Then when intel prematurely cancels the product before it has a chance to catch on, the shops will have to start dropping prices to dump the product off their valuable shelves. AT which point, we all get one for 1/6th the original price.
      And our favorite shops all loose money on the deal. which is not good.
      Smart shop owners will just quit ordering anything from them, knowing they wont support it.
      If enough shops think the same way, maybe intel will just give up entirely.
      And blame all us cheapster “poser makers” for “not supporting the(ir) market”

  3. So the camera creates a map which is presumably saved on the main computer via USB. What I don’t get, is how you locate the robot to a specific point in the map at a later stage and whether the robot has to be trained whilst it is locating.

    An example would be getting a robotic cat to poop in it’s litter tray. Somehow the cat’s owner needs to tell the cat that ‘this is the litter tray’. Using this T265 camera, I’m guessing there’s something in the SDK to enable this but I see nothing in the documentation / publicity ??? Can anybody explain this please?

  4. Will this work with my Intel Edison? At least in theory? I know there won’t be any actual documentation on how to do it. Also, is this going to be a crappy open source thing where Intel gives away a lot of useful stuff to the community. Or the awesome way they usually do it, taking everything they can from open source, making the last little bit proprietary, and thus the product useless, and giving nothing back in return? Can I send my money now, or do I have to wait until if the product is ever actually released?

  5. Reading all your comments above it looks like Intel is not very reliable company when it comes things for makers ( lack of support for community, problems with documentation and SDK ). I’m little worried about this because I was about to buy D435 for my mobile robot and I really do want to stuck with this because of some issues that you guys mentioned. Are there some reliable alternatives for depth camera ( besides Kinect )?

  6. Sounds like Google! Also another company well known for introducing something enticing, and then pulling the rug out from under the developers.

    Well, I ordered one anyway, because it seems like the quickest, easiest way to get my one-off project working as soon as possible.

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