Robots get their own internet

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Scientists have turned on a web-based database specifically for robots, designed to let them share information about their behavior and environment.

Rapyuta has been developed by the European RoboEarth Project as a way of improving the learning ability of robots. It does this by giving them, essentially, their own internet of shared information, from both human beings and other robots.

 It's an open source cloud robotics platform for robots, implementing a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) framework designed specifically for robotics applications.

"Rapyuta helps robots to offload heavy computation by providing secured customizable computing environments in the cloud," say its developers.

"Robots can start their own computational environment, launch any computational node uploaded by the developer, and communicate with the launched nodes using the WebSockets protocol."

Each robot connected to Rapyuta has a secured computing environment that lets it move its heavy computation into the cloud.

Through a high bandwidth connection to the RoboEarth database, robots can process data in the cloud without the need for downloading and local processing. And, because computing environments are tightly interconnected with one another, they can work as teams.

Cutting the amount of processing that needs to be done by the robot itself should make them lighter and cheaper to produce. Rapyuta could be particularly useful, for example, in robot devices such as drones or self-driving cars, which need to process vast amounts of location data.

But it could also help in understanding human speech, for example, or manipulating objects in complex ways.

The RoboEarth Cloud Engine is particularly useful for mobile robots, such as drones or autonomous cars, which require lots of computation for navigation," says Mohanarajah Gajamohan, researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and technical lead of the project.

"It also offers significant benefits for robot co-workers, such as factory robots working alongside humans, which require large knowledge databases, and for the deployment of robot teams."