Many stories about technology at first glance seem to come from the furthest reaches of science fiction. Many turn out to be very much fact.
Now it emerges that there is an internet for robots!
Rapyuta Is the Name
European scientists led by the Eindhoven University of Technology, six research institutes have created a ‘giant cloud space where robots can access a standardised knowledge base and exchange information with one another.’
Also involved are Philips Applied Technologies, the University of Stuttgart, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Spain’s University of Zaragoz and Germany’s Technische Universität München. The project, funded by the European Commission, took four years and had a budget of €5.6 million (US$7.45 million.)
The thinking behind the concept is simple enough. Lighter and simpler robots with minimum computational power onboard can be made which can access the information repository and exchange experiences as needed for particular tasks.
The goal, according to MSN (February 2013) is a WWW for robots, ‘a giant network and database where robots share information and learn from each other about their behavior and their environment.’
It’s bringing to life the old expression, ‘experience is the best teacher.’ They believe it will pave the way for ‘rapid advances in machine cognition and behaviour, and ultimately, for more subtle and sophisticated human-machine interaction.’
Evidently this logical next step is capable of inter-changing knowledge between different types of robot class.
The enterprise’s website proclaims RoboEarth ‘offers a Cloud Robotics infrastructure, which includes everything needed to close the loop from robot to the cloud and back to the robot.’
All Human Experience At Robot Disposal
The information in the database is generated by both humans and robots from actual experiences in a machine-readable format. ‘Data stored in the RoboEarth knowledge base include software components, maps for navigation (e.g., object locations, world models), task knowledge (e.g., action recipes, manipulation strategies), and object recognition models (e.g., images, object models).’
In technical terms they say: ‘RoboEarth offers components for a ROS compatible, robot-unspecific, high-level operating system as well as components for robot-specific, low level controllers accessible via a Hardware Abstraction Layer.’
All sounds very reasonable, doesn’t it? Especially in industrial settings where simple tasks save human energy, resources and time.
But if we think beyond that, is it a slippery slope in the end, in reality?
Plug in to:
MSN: Nobody be alarmed, but the robots have their own internet now…. 11 March 2013
IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine: RoboEarth – A World Wide Web for Robots (2011)
And new tabs for:
What If the Cloud Was a Country, How Green Would It Be?, 20 February 2013
When Science Catches Up With Science Fiction, 14 November 2011
Defence and Technology, 6 March 2012