Cloud Robotics

Overview

The connection between the physical world and the virtual world has never been as exciting, accessible, and economically viable as today. Sensors, actors and robots are able to deliver many physical services in several scenarios, including industrial production and home automation, elderly care, assisted living, logistics and cooperative maintenance.

In isolation, computing capabilities of robots are however limited by embedded CPUs and small on-board storage units. By connecting robots among each other and to cloud computing, cloud storage, and other Internet technologies centered around the benefits of converged infrastructure and shared services, two main advantages can be exploited. First, computation can be outsourced to cloud services leveraging an on-demand pay-per-use elastic model. Second, robots can access a plethora of services complementing their capabilities (e.g., speech analysis, object recognition, knowledge sharing), enabling new complex functionalities and supporting learning.

Cloud robotics is a natural extension to the Internet of Things (IoT). Where IoT devices will gather information about an environment to help make smarter decisions, cloud robotics will be able to use this information and act on it.

Although there is clear recognition that Cloud access is required to complement robotics computation and enable functionalities needed for robotic tasks (e.g., self-driving cars), it is still unclear how to best support these scenarios.

State of the practice

The Robot Operating System (ROS) (http://www.ros.org/) has gained massive traction both in industry and research.

ROS allows robotics developers to concentrate on one specific functionality at a time (e.g., planning, navigation, 3d reconstruction) implemented into so-called ROS nodes that can communicate through pub/sub or RPC-like messages to implement a coherent robotic behavior.

Its next release iteration (ROS2) will address most of the shortcomings of the previous version, for instance removing the need for a centralized master node and adopting a peer to peer discovery mechanism for nodes.

Current ROS development is still faced with low-level interoperability and compilation concerns. Containers in this context are used for the moment simply as a way of providing a consistent running environment for ROS code, however none of the best practices from cloud computing (e.g., resource and container management, placement automation, resource and SW orchestration, continuous integration and deployment) have been adopted yet.

rviz lab

Our lab as seen and mapped by one of our turtlebots

 

Objectives

The initiative’s goal is to enable robotic applications to take full advantage of cloud computing services, resources, best practices, and automation by integrating ROS nodes and robots just as other composable services in the cloud.

The results will benefit all robotic stakeholders:

  • Robotic and cloud developers will be able to deploy their application code in  containers with a click, triggering the orchestration of all needed supporting services (e.g., databases, caches, load balancers, speech and video processing, ROS nodes) and both virtual (e.g., containers, virtual machines) and physical resources (e.g., robots, sensors, cameras, bare-metal machines). ROS nodes and robotic services will be easily composable and accessible from a market generating revenue for SW development of generic and ad hoc solutions;
  • Robot Producers will be able to leverage the advancements in cloud infrastructure and platforms needed to support robotic applications. This will enable them to provide end customers with fully functional robots that do not require on premises compute infrastructure and configuration. Moreover they will be able to leverage from a developer community and their SW artifacts;
  • End users will benefit from robots and applications that work out of the box and can be easily integrated among themselves and with their favourite cloud services.

Cloud orchestration will cover the entire lifecycle of a robotics service, catering for timely resource allocation and dismissal, taking full advantage of the cloud pay-per-use model, sensibly reducing operational costs with respect to an always-on solution.

Moreover, by taking a service oriented approach and adopting modern cloud-development methodologies, developers will benefit from continuous integration / deployment practices, resulting in shorter release cycles and higher productivity.

This research initiative will also address:

  • Review frameworks for offloading processing and storage tasks into suitable cloud services, including one of the first such frameworks, AdAPtS (2012).
  • Delivery of a bundled set of service tooling, including a dynamic service registry, for the purpose of letting robots access cloud services many years after production despite constant service evolution.
  • Fleet management for robots in the cloud.
  • Collaborative knowledge sharing between robots using suitable online services.
  • Identification of beneficial services to augment robot capabilities, such as image recognition and messaging.

Relevance to current and future markets

Robotics is a hot market with competitive manufacturers especially in Switzerland and Europe, including Rapyuta, Aldebaran and (for educational purposes) LEGO Mindstorms. The much larger and currently mostly untapped market is about robots connected to appropriate feedback-loop and cooperation services.

Relevant Standards and Architectures

ROS (Robot Operating System): http://www.ros.org/

Rapyuta: a Cloud Robotics framework  http://rapyuta.org/

Articles and Publications

  • Giovanni Toffetti, Tobias Lötscher, Saken Kenzhegulov, Josef Spillner, and Thomas Michael Bohnert. 2017. Cloud Robotics: SLAM and Autonomous Exploration on PaaS. In Companion Proceedings of the10th International Conference on Utility and Cloud Computing (UCC ’17 Companion). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 65-70. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3147234.3148100
  • J. Spillner, C. Piechnick, C. Wilke, U. Aßmann, A. Schill: Autonomous Participation in Cloud Services. 2nd International Workshop on Intelligent Techniques and Architectures for Autonomic Clouds (ITAAC), Chicago, Illinois, USA, November 2012. (PDF)

Our Youtube playlist

Related blog posts

First Robotics and ROS in Zürich Meetup

Running the ICCLab ROS Kinetic environment on your own laptop

Configuring the ROS Navigation Stack on a new robot

Some Cloud Robotics News

ICCLab & SPLab @ ROSCon 2015

From unboxing RPLIDAR to running in ROS in 10 minutes flat

Challenges with running ROS on Kubernetes

Enterprise Cloud Robotics Platform transfer project

Impressions from ROSCon and IROS 2016

The intricacies of running containers on OpenShift

OpenShift custom router with TCP/SNI support

Openshift 3.6 on Openstack – developer cluster setup

ROSCon 2017 – Vancouver

 

Contact

Giovanni Toffetti: toff(at)zhaw.ch

 

 

MCN and ICCLab Demo at EUCNC

As part of our on-going work in MobileCloud Networking the project demonstrated at this year’s EUCNC, held in a very warm (> 35*C !!!) Paris, France.

The MCN demonstration was built on top of a standard cloud infrastructure, leveraging key technologies of OpenStack and OpenShift and used (open source outputs of MCN, namely hurtle – the cloud orchestration framework of the ICCLab which is used throughout MCN to enable service delivery. Also demonstrated was the use of the ICCLab’s billing solution, Cyclops that is orchestrated using Hurtle. All of this delivers a NFV-compatible, on-demand, composed service instance.

The MobileCloud Networking (MCN) approach and architecture was demonstrated aiming to show new innovative revenue streams based on new service offerings and the optimisation of CAPEX/OPEX. Of particular note and focus, the work highlighted results of cloudifying the Radio Access Network (RAN) and delivering this capability as an on-demand service.

Supporting this focus was the composition of an end-to-end service (RAN, EPC, IMS, DNS, Monitoring & Billing) instance via the MCN dashboard. This demo service is standards compliant and features interoperable implementations of ETSI NFV, OCCI and 3GPP software.

 

The event of the year – chez TMB

Earlier this week we were invited to the lab’s biggest social event till date. The reason was equally big! TMB (everyone knows TMB) threw the party as a gratitude to his team (that’s us!) as a celebration for getting the Professorship in the university, and the journey that he humbly owes to his vibrant team. I can confidently speak here on behalf of all, the feeling is mutual!

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SESAME – Small cEllS coordinAtion for Multi-tenancy and Edge services

SESAME targets innovations around three central elements in 5G: the placement of network intelligence and applications in the network edge through Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) and Edge Cloud Computing; the substantial evolution of the Small Cell concept, already mainstream in 4G but expected to deliver its full potential in the challenging high dense 5G scenarios; and the consolidation of multi-tenancy in communications infrastructures, allowing several operators/service providers to engage in new sharing models of both access capacity and edge computing capabilities.

hl_architecture

SESAME proposes the Cloud-Enabled Small Cell (CESC) concept, a new multi-operator enabled Small Cell that integrates a virtualised execution platform (i.e., the Light DC) for deploying Virtual Network Functions (NVFs), supporting powerful self-x management and executing novel applications and services inside the access network infrastructure. The Light DC will feature low-power processors and hardware accelerators for time critical operations and will build a high manageable clustered edge computing infrastructure. This approach will allow new stakeholders to dynamically enter the value chain by acting as ‘host-neutral’ providers in high traffic areas where densification of multiple networks is not practical. The optimal management of a CESC deployment is a key challenge of SESAME, for which new orchestration, NFV management, virtualisation of management views per tenant, self-x features and radio access management techniques will be developed.

After designing, specifying and developing the architecture and all the involved CESC modules, SESAME will culminate with a prototype with all functionalities for proving the concept in relevant use cases. Besides, CESC will be formulated consistently and synergistically with other 5G-PPP components through coordination with the corresponding projects.

Active ICCLab Research Initiatives

Given the topics that will be developed during the project execution, the following research initiatives from ICCLab will contribute to SESAME.

Project Facts

Horizon 2020 – Call: H2020-ICT-2014-2

Topic: ICT-14-2014

Type of action: RIA

Duration30 Months

Start date: 1/7/2015

Project Title: SESAME: Small cEllS coordinAtion for Multi-tenancy and Edge services

OpenStack 5th B’day, Switzerland User Group celebration

blog2

Last Friday, 17th July 2015, we celebrated the 5th b’day of OpenStack , with the OpenStack Switzerland User Group members. Like previous years, the party took place in the beautiful location next to the lake Zürich. We organised the party at a lakeside restaurant and our guests were delighted by lovely weather, great ambiance and food from the grill. There were no presentations scheduled, the members chose to have an evening of catching up with their friends from the community. Since we see each other every few months, there are several old faces, and its always great to see them again! Following are some of the pictures from the day. The OpenStack Switzerland User Group extends its thanks to the OpenStack Foundation for their contribution to help us make this a very enjoyable evening.

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Conference Report : ConTEL 2015

This is an experience report of presenting a paper and attending the ConTEL 2015 conference.

The 13th Conference on Telecommunications was co-organized by Graz University of Technology and University of Zagreb at Graz in Austria. This edition of the conference focused primarily on Optical Communications and Near Field Communications. The conference was organized for two and half days and saw about 45 papers being presented.

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Janine Walther

Janine
Janine is doing a second education that is made up from an internship at the ICCLab and visiting school part time at the Zürcher Lehrbetriebsverband ICT (ZLI). Before the ICCLab, she was working as a photo expert in a camera shop in Frauenfeld, Thurgau. At the moment, Janine is fully concentrating on learning the basics, so the projects she will be working on still have to be determined.

Janine has joined the ICCLab in June 2015.

Summer School 2015

 Summerschool_Class2015

ICCLab again organised the Summer School this year. This was the 3rd year since this program was incorporated as part of the ZHAW international exchange program. We had 16 students in total this year, 6 from the United States of America (GVSU, Michigan) and 10 from Switzerland (ZHAW).

The Summer School is an overall 4 week program, of which 2 weeks where spent in Winterthur, teaching Cloud Computing and Computer System lectures and labs everyday. Two more weeks of education are currently spent at our partner-university, Grand-Valley State University, in Allendale, MI, USA.

The lectures & labs were held by our own team members from the lab, the experts teaching their topic. Hence it provided a good opportunity for the aspirant young researchers to have some formal teaching experience. Some regular lecturers and professors (who look after this responsibility in the formal semester of the University), could take a back seat to supervise the course and some others transferred their long term expertise to the next generation of ICT-engineers.

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Josef Spillner

This page is kept for archiving. Please navigate to our new site: blog.zhaw.ch/splab.

Doz. Dr. habil. Josef Spillner

Josef Spillner is a senior lecturer and head of the Service Prototyping Lab at Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland. His research interests include cloud-native applications, service tooling and cloud accounting & billing. With his team, he works on challenging topics such as microservices, function-as-a-service and time series analysis. Before founding the lab, he conducted research at TUD, SAP, NTUU, UFCG and UniBZ and founded the Open Source Service Platform Research Initiative to promote re-usable software for scientific work. His work approach continues to promote international exchange, most recently at PTI, and modernisation of research and publication approaches. He published a doctoral dissertation about metaquality of services and a habilitation treatise about stealth computing in multi-cloud environments.

Research Outputs

Teaching

  • Internet Service Prototyping (elective for IT/WI students)
  • Scripting (advanced studies/masters)
  • IT Programming (bachelor level)

Academic Services

  • General Chair, 11th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Utility and Cloud Computing (UCC 2018) and 5th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Big Data Computing, Applications and Technologies (BDCAT 2018), Zurich, Switzerland
  • Workshop Chair for Cloud Software Engineering, IEEE International Conference on Cloud Computing (CLOUD 2018)
  • Guest Editor, IEEE Cloud Computing Magazine
  • also see lab overview page for service activities by the team and previous activities

Contact

 

International research and teaching