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AI assistant for hardware design gets a vision upgrade



Copilot, an AI-based hardware design assistant that understands a project context automatically, now has a vision version, and that makes it the first multi-modal AI tool for hardware design. According to Flux, a startup based in San Francisco, that will facilitate access to powerful new use cases and open up a world of new possibilities in hardware design workflow.

Flux Copilot, conversational AI that lives in a project, streamlines tedious tasks, conducts design reviews, and makes hardware teams more productive. With Copilot Vision, engineers can input a block diagram to the AI tool and watch it recommend suitable parts by intelligently parsing the diagram into functional sections.

Figure 1 Users can input a block diagram and get recommendations on suitable components. Source: Flux

How Copilot Vision works

In hardware design, a lot of thinking is visual and requires context, as design engineers commonly rely on visual resources such as block diagrams, charts, and drawings. However, these resources can be hard to interpret and separate from the actual design.

Take the case of an engineer working on a project based on an existing block diagram. That calls for turning that block diagram into a working circuit, selecting the right components, and connecting them correctly. As a result, engineers must read through datasheets and application notes, which can often get confusing, time-consuming, and hard to keep track of.

Here, Copilot’s latest upgrade incorporates images as a more natural way to communicate ideas and integrate those resources into a design. Engineers can provide Copilot with an image as a file upload, and Copilot will instantly understand what they are trying to build. Next, engineers can ask questions, learn, and get design reviews in entirely new and more effective ways.

Figure 2 Copilot’s vision capability enables engineers to compare schematic diagram against a block diagram and catch discrepancies. Source: Flux

Besides part recommendations, Copilot can help ensure design quality by comparing schematic diagram against a block diagram. Its analysis catches discrepancies like missing elements in a design and offers suggestions for improvement.

Moreover, when engineers are ambivalent about how to interpret a chart on a datasheet, they can provide Copilot with an image of the chart and ask in-depth questions. Copilot Vision will interpret input and explain any aspect of the chart and how it relates to hardware design needs.

Figure 3 Copilot is capable of chart interpretation and dimensional analysis. Source: Flux

Design engineers are often overwhelmed by all the information and dimensions when looking at the part drawings. Here, engineers can provide an image to Copilot and ask any question about part dimensions. The AI assistant will interpret and correlate them to real component footprints, even making educated guesses about component types based on project context.

The biggest Copilot upgrade

Copilot, built around the concept of agile hardware development, aims to facilitate every step of the hardware development process from initial brainstorming all the way through production. With the launch of the vision upgrade, design engineers not only can chat with Copilot, they can also see what they are working on.

Flux calls it the biggest upgrade to Copilot yet. The company welcomes user feedback on what works well, what could be better, and what other modes of interaction users would want to build into Copilot. The feedback can be shared through Flux’s Slack community.

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The post AI assistant for hardware design gets a vision upgrade appeared first on EDN.

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