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Interoperability has and will continue to be an issue for robotics adoption. Products from smaller companies, including Freedom Robotics, Open Robotics and Rocos, have come to market to help robots from different vendors communicate and work together. And we recently witnessed the first public demo of MassRobotics’ interoperability standard.
But now a tech giant is throwing its hat into the interoperability ring, too. Amazon Web Services (AWS) today released a preview of its robotic fleet management system AWS IoT RoboRunner. The goal is to make it easier for companies to deploy robots, no matter the vendor, and make them work together.
AWS said AWS IoT RoboRunner builds on the same technology used in Amazon’s fulfillment centers. Whether working with automated guided vehicles (AGVs), autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) or robotic arms, AWS IoT RoboRunner lets companies see and control their robots and work management systems from a single platform.
AWS IoT RoboRunner provides a central data repository for facility, location, and task data. AWS said this makes it possible for developers to build interoperable management applications. AWS IoT RoboRunner also claims to eliminate the need for numerous integrations among different robot control systems and warehouse management systems. AWS said all systems integrate with AWS IoT RoboRunner, which then connects all integrated systems automatically.
AWS IoT RoboRunner will integrate with other AWS services such as SageMaker, Greengrass and SiteWise. This, AWS said, gives its fleet management system an advantage over other available options.
And when it comes to mobile robots, AWS IoT RoboRunner provides reference integrations for mobile robots from select robot vendors. The Robot Report reached out to AWS about what companies it has reference integrations for. We’ll update this story if we learn more.
The AWS IoT RoboRunner service is now available in AWS regions US East and Europe.
Of course, this is not Amazon’s first foray into robotics development products. It introduced in 2018 its AWS RoboMaker simulation service. And earlier in 2021 it introduced SageMaker Reinforcement Learning Kubeflow Components, an open-source toolkit designed to make it faster to develop machine learning capabilities for everything from perception to controls and optimization.
Earlier today, AWS partnered with MassRobotics on a robotics startup accelerator. The four-week program will drive a select cohort of robotics startups through an intensive, advanced curriculum specially designed to accelerate their growth.
As for MassRobotics’ Interoperability Standard, you can watch the first public demo of the system below and read a breakdown of the demo from sister publication Mobile Robot Guide. The demo took place at the FedEx DART Lab in Memphis, which is where FedEx tests all new logistics automation solutions. The companies involved in the demonstration included Vecna Robotics, Waypoint Robotics and WiBotic Autonomous Charging.
Open Robotics, the organization behind the open-source Robot Operating System (ROS) won an RBR50 Robotics Innovation Award in 2021 for its Robotic Middleware for Healthcare (RoMi-H) system. Built on ROS 2, RoMi-H enables interoperability between robotics vendors by creating uniform communication and monitoring across heterogeneous fleets of robots, sensors and enterprise information systems.
Open Robotics recently deployed RoMi-H at Changi General Hospital in Singapore, in partnership with Singapore’s Centre for Healthcare Assistive and Robotics Technology (CHART), IHiS, Hope Technik, GovTech and more.
RoMi-H uses standardized communication protocols for infrastructure, environments and automation where robots are deployed to optimize the use of critical resources (i.e. robots, lifts, doors, passageways, etc). It adds intelligence to the system through resource allocation and by preventing conflicts over shared resources.