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Big data, the cloud and Fanuc?

ABB and Microsoft

ABB offers an optional software package to ABB robot owners called Connected Services. This is a 24/7/365 monitoring service for their robots but administered by the client; it is not an ABB-wide effort to monitor and learn from their whole network of robots around the world. However, that learning capability is available and may be available in the future as can be seen by ABB’s Connected Service offered by ABB’s power business, where they are working together with Microsoft on a cloud-based e-mobility charging platform for power stations for electronic vehicle recharging. This will include user recognition, accepting payments, and data transfer of streaming data for system stability and monitoring.

Aethon

Aethon, a mobile robotics company focusing on the hospital industry, started their Cloud Command Center in 2013 from which they remotely monitor, support and even control the autonomous mobile robots installed at their customer’s locations. Aethon staffs the command center 24/7/365 and has over 400 TUGs in 140 locations online and in constant communication with the command center. Occasionally a TUG finds itself in a situation where it needs help. Rather than rely on customer personnel to address this, the command center takes over and manages the situation. Algorithms monitor the status of each TUG in real-time and if the algorithms detect a TUG might need help an alert is sent to an on-duty support staff member who, using a secure VPN connection, can connect to the TUG’s on board sensors to assess the situation. In the simplest of solutions, the operator can drive the device out of the situation. Whatever the case, the command system updates with the solution and the criteria that precipitated the situation. Thus the system is not only handling problems, it is learning how to anticipate those very same situations in the future and proactively prevent them.

Black Box Deep Learning

Kuka, ABB and Fanuc – as are most robot makers – are late to the A.I. and deep learning party, but still very welcomed. The most visible of the efforts in deep learning are in Silicon Valley which has seen widespread start-ups in A.I. research by almost every car company, Baidu, Alibaba and, most recently, Toyota’s $1 billion investment in establishing the SV Toyota Research Institute. Apple, Google and Facebook have led investment in more advanced uses, but practical deep learning systems such as Aethon’s, Fanuc’s and Kuka’s are also becoming prevalent in the industrial sector. The black box concept, i.e., the storing of streamed sensor data for analysis and learning, is a valuable tool in air safety and may soon become a mainstay in autonomously driven transportation, mobile robots and robotics in general. That data, and super-fast computer processing, are enabling deep learning engines to find and build patterns that can make the devices safer, more productive, and more cost effective.

Big data, the cloud and Fanuc?
Bild: ABB Robotics


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