A San Francisco-based platform called Unity, known for creating and operating games and other 3D content, recently announced the launch of Unity Simulation Pro and Unity SystemGraph. The launch of these tools was in a bid to greatly improve modelling, testing, and training complex systems through AI. With robotics usage in supply chains and manufacturing steadily increasing yearly, such software has become more critical than ever to ensure efficient and safe operations.
According to Danny Lange, senior vice president of artificial intelligence for the Unit in an email said that “Unity SystemGraph uses a node-based approach to model the complex logic typically found in electrical and mechanical systems.” He further explains that “This makes it easier for roboticists and engineers to model small systems, and allows grouping those into larger, more complex ones — enabling them to prototype systems, test and analyse their behaviour, and make optimal design decisions without requiring access to the actual hardware” said Lange.
According to Venture Beats, Unity’s execution engine, Unity Simulation Pro, offers headless rendering advantages thereby eliminating the need to project each image to a screen and expanding simulation efficiency by up to 50% and at a lowered cost. The company said that “The Unity Simulation Pro is the only product built from the ground up to deliver distributed rendering, enabling multiple graphics processing units (GPUs) to render the same Unity project or simulation environment simultaneously, either locally or in the private cloud.” This implies that with Unity, multiple robots with thousands of sensors can be simulated faster than in real-time.
Lange discloses that users in markets like robotics, drones, autonomous driving, agriculture technology, and many more are developing simulations containing environments, sensors, and models with million-square-foot warehouses, dozens of robots, and hundreds of sensors. With simulations such as this, they can test software against realistic virtual worlds, teach and train robot operators, or try physical integrations before real-world implementation. Lange reveals that this is all faster, more cost-effective, and safer, taking place in the metaverse.
“A more specific use case would be using Unity Simulation Pro to investigate collaborative mapping and mission planning for robotic systems in indoor and outdoor environments,” says Lange. He added that some users have built a simulated 4,000 square-foot building sitting within a confined forest area and are attempting to map the area using a combination of drones, off-road mobile robots, and walking robots. The company reports that it’s creating an environment that enables creators to build and model the sensors and systems of mechatronic systems to run in various simulations.
A major application of Unity SystemGraph applies to how it enables those looking into building simulations with a physically accurate camera, SensorSDK, and lidar models to take advantage of SystemGraph’s library of ready-to-use models and easily configure them to their specific cases. Customers can now simulate at scale, iterate quickly, and test more to drive insights at a fraction of current simulation costs, Unity says. The company adds that customers like Allen Institute of AI, Volvo Cars, and Carnegie Mellon University are already recording tremendous results.
While there are a number of companies that have gone ahead to build simulators targeted especially at AI applications like robotics or synthetic data generation, Unity claims that it stands out above its rivals because of the ease of use of its authoring tools. Top competitors to Unity include Roblox, Aarki, Chartboost, MathWorks, and Mobvista. Lange says that evidence of these is in the size of Unity’s existing user of over 1.5 million creators already using its editor tools. Unity states that its technology is aimed solely at impacting the industrial metaverse, where organizations continue to push the envelope on cutting-edge simulations.
Lange discloses that “As these simulations grow in complexity in terms of the size of the environment, the number of sensors used in that environment, or the number of avatars operating in that environment, the need for our product increases. Our distributed rendering feature, which is unique to Unity Simulation Pro, enables you to leverage the increasing amount of GPU compute resources available to customers, in the cloud or on-premise networks, to render this simulation faster than in real-time. This is not possible with many open-source rendering technologies or even the base Unity product — all of which will render at less than 50% real-time for these scenarios.”
The future of AI-powered technologies
Moving into the year 2022 which is just around the corner, Unity expects to record an increase in the adoption of AI-powered technologies, with two key motivators to drive the adoption. “On one side, companies like Unity will continue to deliver products that help lower the barrier to entry and help increase adoption by wider ranges of customers. This is combined with the decreasing cost of computing, sensors, and other hardware components,” says Lange. He further explains that “Then on the customer adoption side, the key trends that will drive adoption are broader labor shortages and the demand for more operational efficiencies — all of which have the effect of accelerating the economics that drive the adoption of these technologies on both fronts.”
Unity is not looking back at developing purpose-built products for its simulation users, enabling them with smart and creative tools to mimic the real world by simulating environments with various sensors, multiple avatars, and agents for significant performance gains at a lower cost. The company says this will help its users take the first leap into the industrial metaverse.