Computer scientists say they have created an “internet for robots”, a cloudcomputing system to aid in robotics tasks and robot learning.
Researchers at five European universities said the system will allow robots connected to the internet to directly access the powerful computational, storage and communications infrastructure of modern data centres like the giant server farms that power companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon.
The RoboEarth Cloud Engine will allow robots to share knowledge with other robots via a Webstyle database, greatly speeding up robot learning and adaptation in complex tasks, according to the ETH Zurich technical research centre.
The cloud will enable robots to perform complex functions like mapping, navigation or processing of human voice commands in a fraction of the time required by robots’ on-board computers.
“The RoboEarth Cloud Engine is particularly useful for mobile robots, such as drones or autonomous cars, which require lots of computation for navigation,” ETH Zurich researcher Mohanarajah Gajamohan said.
The new computing platform could help in developing lighter, cheaper, more intelligent robots.
“On-board computation reduces mobility and increases cost,” said Heico Sandee, RoboEarth’s Program Manager at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.
“With the rapid increase in wireless data rates caused by the booming demand of mobile communications devices, more and more of a robot’s computational tasks can be moved into the cloud.”
In a speech to the Royal Society last autumn on technologies critical to the UK economy, George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: “Robots acting independently of human control – which can learn, adapt and take decisions – will revolutionise our economy and society over the next 20 years.”