The new InDro Cortex: Amazing power in a tiny package

The new InDro Cortex: Amazing power in a tiny package

By Scott Simmie


The InDro Robotics engineering team, as always, has been hard at work. And we’re particularly pleased with our latest R&D breakthrough: The InDro command module, which we’ve named InDro Cortex.

It’s a small but exceedingly powerful box that will immediately enable robotic platforms to reach the next level. It’s robot-agnostic, meaning you can integrate Cortex with any ROS-based robot (which is pretty much all of them).

And what can it do?

A better question might be: What can’t it do? And the answer there is “not much.”

Below: An InDro Robotics Cortex mounted on a Unitree B2 quadruped. Cortex enables remote teleoperations, autonomous missions – and much more…

InDro Control Module ICM



There’s some important history here – which also tells you something about the InDro Robotics ethos.

In November of 2021, we released a very popular product. InDro Commander was developed in response to the needs of clients who wanted to be able to quickly turn a platform into a smart, easily customisable robot capable of teleoperation over 4G or 5G. From developers and academics through to large technology companies, our clients had been requesting such a solution. In fact, even in the development of our own products we identified the need for an all-in-one solution to speed robot integration and enable teleoperation.

“Our engineering team came up with the concept of the InDro Commander after integrating and customizing our own robots,” said Philip Reece, CEO of InDro Robotics, when the product was launched. “We realized there were hurdles common to all of them – so we designed and produced a solution. Commander vastly simplifies turning a platform into a fully functioning, teleoperated robot.”

Commander, as this webpage explains, “is designed to allow developers to quickly customize their own robotic solution. The following are common additions that can be easily added to any Commander-controlled robotic system: LiDAR (2D/3D), PTZ camera, thermal cameras, wireless charging, IMU, RTK.”

Commander, quite simply, takes the pain out of integration.

And how does it do that? Well, it ships with a powerful EDGE computer pre-loaded with ROS1 and ROS2 folders. It also contains multiple USB ports, allowing for the instant addition (and recognition of) pretty much any sensor you can throw at it. It allowed clients who were previously spending a ton of time on integration to simply attach Commander to the robot’s power supply, start plugging in sensors, and then remotely operate via a secure dashboard.

When it was first released, Engineering Lead Arron Griffiths dubbed it “ROS-in-a-Box.” We later changed that to Commander, but here’s the splashy video released at the time in advance of the big IROS show, where Commander made its debut:



At InDro, we have a motto of “Invent, Enhance, Deploy.” But deployment doesn’t mean we rest on our laurels. InDro’s engineers continuously look at ways to enhance existing products. And that’s exactly what we’ve done with Commander. We asked ourselves: How could we make this even better?

“InDro Cortex grew out of the idea of making a general purpose backpack/module that any OEM could put on their motorized product – everything from a ground robot to even a golf cart, drone, car, truck or RC platform,” says Engineering Lead Arron Griffiths. “That single module makes any platform ROS-enabled, AI-ready and 5G connected.”

A lot of work went into this. One of the biggest tasks was designing and developing four new boards that pack a lot of AI compute power (and other features) into a tiny space. There are separate boards for EDGE computing, teleoperation data transfer, and sensor integration. There’s also a separate WiFi system.

“And of course, it can run on either a public or private 5G network,” says InDro Vice President Peter King.

And did we say size matters? The small size of Cortex means it can be placed on virtually any robot – from the smallest quadruped to the largest AMR. It can even be fitted to a drone.

“It’s tiny so it fits on everything. So basically we can turn any platform into a very powerful robot without all the time and hassle,” adds King.

Below: Much of the magic of InDro Cortex lies in the design, development and testing of four new circuit boards:

InDro Control Module ICM



InDro Cortex is a powerful solution on its own. But pairing it with our new InDro Controller provides incredible synergy.

We just wrote a fairly comprehensive post about InDro Controller, so if you’d like more details you can check this out. But in a nutshell, InDro Controller is a powerful desktop UI for operating any robot. With a highly secure data connection, InDro Controller automatically senses all key parameters of any robotic device. It will automatically detect any sensors, providing a data feed from all of them with minimal latency.

“It can handle all sorts of data,” says Front-End Developer RJ Bundy. “It doesn’t matter if the robot has standard or custom sensors, InDro Controller can automatically detect and visualize them. For example, if you added a radar unit to an existing robot, the system will pick up on that immediately.”

InDro Controller provides the operator with a highly customisable dashboard for carrying out complex missions. It will also keep track of any missions manually carried out, and make them repeatable as autonomous missions.

And that autonomy? InDro has created two different autonomy software stacks. One is for outdoor missions that rely on GPS; the second is for indoor missions like SLAM in GPS-denied environments. That software comes with InDro Controller – and is also loaded onto the module. So the two key elements of this system – InDro Controller and InDro Cortex – have been made to operate seamlessly together.

Anyone should be able to configure and control Cortex for their product, and indeed, their solution,” says Griffiths.

Below: A look at the powerful InDro Controller UI dashboard. The Controller software has been created to be an ideal match for InDro Cortex and is easy to operate.

Teleoperations with Robots



We’re extraordinarily proud of the work our engineering team has put into Cortex – as well as InDro Controller. We believe these two, in combination, set a new bar for both robot integration and complex remote teleoperations.

“The design and creation of the boards used in Cortex was a significant technical challenge – and a significant achievement. The same can be said of our two new autonomy stacks,” says InDro Robotics CEO Philip Reece.

“Whether it’s a ground robot, a drone, or some other device that requires high processing power and minimal latency with all the features enabled by ROS, Cortex allows developers to quickly transform virtually any platform into a powerful autonomous robot with minimal effort.”

Interested in learning more? Of course you are. Contact our Head of R&D Sales, Luke Corbeth, right here.



InDro Commander module streamlines robotics R&D

InDro Commander module streamlines robotics R&D

By Scott Simmie


Building robots is hard.

Even if you start with a manufactured platform for locomotion (very common in the case of ground robots), the work ahead can be challenging and time-consuming. How many sensors will require a power supply and data routing? What EDGE processing is needed? How will a remote operator interface with the machine? What coding will allow everything to work in unison and ensure the best data and performance possible? How will data be transmitted or stored?

That’s the hard stuff, which inevitably requires a fair bit of time and effort.

It’s that hurdle – one faced by pretty much everyone in the robotics R&D world – that led to the creation of InDro Commander.

InDro Commander



InDro Commander is a platform-agnostic module that can bolt on to pretty much any means of locomotion. In the photo above, it’s the box mounted on top of the AgileX bunker (just above the InDro logo).

Commander is, as this webpage explains, “a single box with critical software and hardware designed to simplify payload integration and enable turn-key teleoperations.” Whether you’re adding LiDAR, thermal sensors, RTK, Pan-Tilt-Zoom cameras – or pretty much any other kind of sensor – Commander takes the pain out of integration.

The module offers multiple USB inputs for sensors, allowing developers to decide on a mounting location and then simply plug them in. A powerful Jetson EDGE computer handles onboard compute functions. The complete Robot Operating System software libraries (ROS1 and ROS2) are bundled in, allowing developers to quickly access the code needed for various sensors and functions.

“Our engineering team came up with the concept of the InDro Commander after integrating and customizing our own robots,” says Philip Reece, CEO of InDro Robotics. “We realized there were hurdles common to all of them – so we designed and produced a solution. Commander vastly simplifies turning a platform into a fully functioning robot.”

Account Executive Luke Corbeth takes it further:

“The Commander serves as a “brain-box” for any UGV,” he says. “It safely houses the compute, connectivity, cameras, sensors and other hardware in an IP54 enclosure.”

It also comes in several options, depending on the client’s requirements.

“There are three ‘standard versions’ which are bundles to either be Compute Ready, Teleoperations Ready or Autonomy Ready,” adds Corbeth.

“I’ve realized over time that the value of Commander is our ability to customize it to include, or more importantly, not include specific components depending on the needs of the project and what the client already has available. In reality, most Commanders I sell include some, but not usually all, of what’s in the Commander Navigate. We’re also able to customize to specific needs or payloads.”

Below: Commander comes in multiple configurations

InDro Commander



With InDro Commander, developers can spend more time on their actual project or research – and far less time on the build.

“For end-users wanting a fully customized robot, Commander saves a huge amount of time and hassle,” says InDro Engineering Lead Arron Griffiths. “Customers using this module see immediate benefits for sensor integration, and the web-based console for remote operations provides streaming, real-time data. Commander also supports wireless charging, which is a huge bonus for remote operations.”

Commander serves as the brains for several InDro ground robots, including Sentinel. This machine was recently put through its paces over 5G in a test for EPRI, the Electric Power Research Institute.




Depending on the model, Commander can also serve as a Plug & Play device for operations over 4G or 5G networks. In fact, InDro was invited by US carrier T-Mobile to a 2022 event in Washington State. There, we demonstrated the live, remote tele-operation of a Sentinel inspection robot.

Using a simple Xbox controller plugged into a laptop at T-Mobile HQ in Bellevue WA, we operated a Sentinel in Ottawa – more than 4,000 kilometres away. There was no perceptible lag, and even untrained operators were able to easily control remote operations and cycle between the Pan Tilt Zoom camera, a thermal sensor, and a wide-angle camera used for situational awareness by the operator. Data from all sensors was displayed on the dashboard, with the ability for the operator to easily cycle between them.

Below: T-Mobile’s John Saw, Executive Vice President, Advanced & Emerging Technologies, talks about InDro Commander-enabled robots teleoperating over 5G networks 




Platforms change. Needs evolve. New sensors hit the market.

With Commander on board, developers don’t need to start from scratch. The modular design enables end-users to seamlessly upgrade platforms down the road by simply unbolting Commander and affixing it to the new set of wheels (or treads).

Below: Any sensor, including LiDAR, can be quickly integrated with InDro Commander

Teleoperated Robots



You likely know the saying: “Necessity if the mother of invention.”

InDro developed this product because we could see its utility – both for our own R&D, and for clients. We’ve put Commander to use on multiple custom InDro robots, with many more to come. (We have even created a version of this for Enterprise drones.)

On the commercial side, our clients have really benefited from the inherent modularity that the Commander provides,” says Luke Corbeth.

“Since the ‘brains’ are separate from the ‘body,’ this simplifies their ability to make the inevitable repairs or upgrades they’ll require. These clients generally care about having a high functioning robot reliably completing a repetitive task, and Commander allows us to operate and program our robots to do this.”

It can also save developers money.

“On the R&D side, the customizable nature of the Commander means they only purchase what they don’t already have,” adds Corbeth.

“For instance, many clients are fortunate enough to have some hardware already available to them whether it’s a special camera, LiDAR or a Jetson so we can support the integration of their existing systems remotely or they can send this hardware directly to us. This cuts down lead times and helps us work within our clients’ budgets as we build towards the dream robot for their project.”

Still have questions or want to learn more? You can get in touch with Luke Corbeth here.