What is Cloud Robotics?

Cloud robotics is an emerging field of robotics rooted in cloud computing, cloud storage, and other Internet technologies centered around the benefits of converged infrastructure and shared services. It allows robots to benefit from the powerful computational, storage, and communications resources of modern data centers. In addition, it removes overheads for maintenance and updates, and reduces dependence on custom middleware.

Cloud robotics allows robots to take advantage of the rapid increase in data transfer rates to offload tasks without hard real time requirements. This is of particular interest for mobile robots, where on-board computation entails additional power requirements which may reduce operating duration and constrain robot mobility as well as increase costs.

Driven by advances in mobile communication technologies, more and more robotics applications can be executed in the cloud.

Broader definitions of Cloud Robotics may also include other Internet-related aspects of robotics, such as trends towards the online sharing of open source hardware and software, crowd-sourcing of robotics funding, telepresence, and human-based computation. Other definitions stress the links between robotics and related emerging fields such as the Internet of Things, Web of Things, robot app stores, sensor networks, Big data, and others.

Cloud Robotics initiatives

  • The DAvinCi Project showed the advantages of cloud computing by parallelizing a SLAM algorithm using a Hadoop cluster. Unfortunately not publicly available.
  • rosbridge focuses on bridging communication between a robot and single ROS environment in the cloud. Available open-source via ROS.org.
  • The Cloud-Based Robot Grasping project uses Google’s Object Recognition Engine to recognize and grasp common household objects. Unfortunately not publicly available.
  • GostaiNet offers to execute robot behaviors such as vision and speech algorithms on compatible robots in the cloud. Unfortunately not publicly available.
  • The rosjava library allows to run ROS on Android phones. While not strictly a cloud robotics project, it allows ROS developers to use Android devices to connect to (human) cloud services such as Google Goggles. Available open-source via ROS.org.
  • With the RoboEarth Databases and its Cloud Engine, RoboEarth provides an open-source Cloud Robotics framework that allows robots to share knowledge via a WWW-style database and access powerful robotic cloud services. Source code and documentation are available via RoboEarth’s Software Components page.