Connecting Robotics With Cloud Computing

| May 10, 2015

Robotics is now turning to the cloud as the future of their industry starts to mature and more robots are being given commercial roles. By integrating cloud computing technology with robots, we are able to augment their capabilities through the Internet. This can result in better communications and higher production as well as efficiency. Cloud integration with robotics provides new ways of robots to interact together.

Kuka Microsoft Robotic Arm

Kuka Microsoft Robotic Arm

One cloud computing concept that is already being deployed by the robotics industry is through Google new autonomous car. It uses the cloud to update its map system, and plan out routes quicker and clearer with every new update through the cloud. There are a number of perks to using the cloud with robotics and that include access to big data in the form of maps, product data and images. You have access to parallel grid computing on demand for functions such as statistical analysis, learning, and motion planning.

Access to the cloud

Using the cloud with robots can give them access to learning functions that would take too long to code as separate functionality. Accessing other robots and sharing system trajectories, control policies, and outcomes are all learning functions that can be accomplished through the cloud. You can also tap into human computation in the form of crowdsourcing systems to help provide analysis on images, video, or for classification and error recovery. One such integration could be with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Through the cloud sophisticated tools can be accessed such as datasets, historical publications, different models as well as benchmarking and simulation tools.

Robotic Marketplace

The marketplace online is dominated by big hitting e-commerce giants such as Amazon Ebay, and Alibaba. Who will rule if there has to be a consumer based robot marketplace. One were functions and new processes are bought for existing robots to give them new functions and capabilities, and sold by programmers. With the amount of robotic hardware that has been proposed for the next decade, this type of robot marketplace will become a reality. Take for example what happened once the smartphone giants Apple and Google released their smartphones. Huge app marketplaces popped up to fuel the consumer demand for new mobile functionality.

Connectivity Backups

There are still obstacles standing in the way of a constantly Internet connected robotics future. Bad Internet connections are still a major burden in some areas of the world, as well as Wi-Fi reliability in a house room from room. If there are operations carried out by a robot that requires real time internet access such as machine learning, or statistical analysis then connectivity is a real issue. There will have to be a backup onboard processing capability built in to the robot to allow any brief internet signal dropouts.

Robotic Duties

Some of the more basic duties that are currently being give to robots include things like robotic vacuum cleaning, but they are useful in many other industries. Robots are the backbone in car manufacturing, but are yet to make inroads in car design. They are also starting to play pivotal roles in health care with Hospitals using robots to transport drugs to different departments. Norway have even pioneered a hospital that has been designed with robotics integral into the working aspect of the hospital. Robots pick and deliver drugs to clinicians and nurses reducing the chance of error from the complexity of drug names on the market. Each of these industries can take their robotics role one step further with the accessing of cloud services & networking to their robots.

Microsoft Industrial Robots

One of the first companies to demonstrate a tie up of robotics with multiple technologies is microsoft. They teamed up Kuka Robotics who are pioneers in robotics and automation technology, and developed an industrial robot arm that used Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure, and also their Xbox Kinect 3D motion sensor. This resulted in a multi-jointed arm that they names the Intelligent Industrial Work Assistant. Its simple task was to thread a small tube into the back of a washing machine which by its nature had required a human to carry out, due to its delicate nature. If the robot makes a mistake or senses an error, it will notify technicians via wireless wearable technology, and sense when the technicians arrives via the motion sensor.

The Future of Robotics and Cloud

The future is already here for robotics to join up with the cloud, It just sits a little disjointed at the moment. As Microsoft has already demonstrated, taking existing technology, and imagining new and creative ways to connect that technology is what can form the missing piece of the jigsaw. As wearable technology starts to take off, so he will see better connections made to our robot counter workers, and with the connection to the cloud we will see them join more coherently with us.

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