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Announcing the first international workshop on cloud robotics

First a short reminder: the deadline for submission at the International Workshop on Cloud Native Applications Design and ExperienceCNAX 2016 is approaching quickly: submission deadline is on Dec. 21st!

With that out of the way, we’re delighted to announce that ICCLab and SPLab are organizing the first International Workshop on Cloud Robotics (IWCR 2016) together with our friends over at Rapyuta Robotics.

The workshop will be held In conjunction with the 6th International Conference on Cloud Computing and Services Science – CLOSER 2016 which is set to take place in Rome between the 23rd and 25th of April 2016.

Cloud robotics is a very exciting topic bridging the physical and virtual world. It allows on the one hand to extend the limited processing capabilities of robots by leveraging cloud computing, and on the other it means that robots will be able to access web services providing them with unique advanced capabilities (e.g., speech recognition, Google goggles, knowledge sharing…). But yeah, what we’re all excited about is that we get to play with robots!

For more information on the workshop and the call for papers have a look at the workshop official page:

We’re looking forward to a great workshop on this hot topic, so please consider participating, sending a paper, and help us spread the word!

The submission deadline is January 22, 2016





SPLab organizing Cloud Native Applications Workshop

We’re proud to announce that SPLab is organizing the First International Workshop on Cloud Native Applications Design and ExperienceCNAX 2016.

It will be co-located with the 10th IEEE Symposium on Service-Oriented Systems — SOSE 2016 in Oxford.

You can find more information about the workshop and the CFP on the CNAX 2016 page.

Important Dates:

  • Paper submission: December 21, 2015
  • Notification of acceptance: January 18, 2016
  • Camera-ready submission: February 1, 2016
  • Author and early registration: February 1, 2016

We are organizing the event together with Jorge Cardoso from the Huawei European Research Center (ERC).
We have an amazing PC with top researchers from both industry (e.g., Google, IBM, Red Hat, Huawei) and academia.

Cloud native applications is a new topic which is growing fast and we’re delighted to be involving in it.
Help us spread the word, submit a paper, and come to the workshop, we are looking forward to that!

MySQL Galera cluster with Fleet on CoreOS

In the context of the Cloud-Native Applications (CNA) Initiative at SPLab, we kicked off a few months ago a seed project with the aim of getting practical experience of the most common problems and pitfalls of re-architecting a legacy web application for the cloud. Here, we report on our experiences with a specific focus on the thorny problem of realizing a scalable, distributed database backend for such an application.

Cloud-native applications

The main characteristics of a cloud-native application is that it has to be resilient and elastic, and this has to be true for all the (micro)services and components that make up the application.

After choosing the Zurmo CRM application and making the Web server tier stateless, we concentrated on decomposing the application into containers, allowed multiple instances of Memcached to run concurrently, added a “dockerized” ELK stack for monitoring, and finally our own configurable auto-scaling engine (Dynamite).

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ICCLab & SPLab @ ROSCon 2015

The Cloud Robotics initiative was recently kicked off at SPLab.
Invited by one of our collaboration partners, we attended ROSCon 2015 in Hamburg.

ROSCon is the ROS (Robot Operating System) conference, dedicated to all research, development, and practice going around ROS. 2015 was the fourth edition of the event and was so crowded with ROS enthusiasts that was completely sold out.

ROS is the most prominent open source solution for robotic software, with a growing community and widespread industrial interest. Still, its integration with cloud computing is just in its infancy and we wanted to find out more from the problems and needs of the people using it. There is interest in ROS from companies like Canonical, Bosch, BMW, Qualcomm, and Fetch Robotics which were all present at the conference.

For those of you that still don’t know ROS, we highly recommend taking a tour of the ROS wiki Tutorial. ROS is a very exciting technology consisting in a software framework and tools to write robotics software.

“ROS was built from the ground up to encourage collaborative robotics software development”

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Cloud Robotics


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) ( 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



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):

Rapyuta: a Cloud Robotics framework

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:
  • 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



Giovanni Toffetti: toff(at)



ICCLab awarded AWS in Education Grant

Great news from the other side of the pond!

The ICCLab Cloud-Native Applications (CNA) initiative has been awarded an AWS Research Education grant for accessing cloud resources on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform. Congrats to Sandro and Giovanni (yours truly) for the achievement and a big thanks to Amazon for this.

The AWS Research education grant provides credit for using AWS services for education and research purposes. As a teacher or a researcher, you can experiment with all the current AWS services and grant access to your students and collaborators. You can find more information about it and the form to apply here:

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MCN and ICCLab @ ACROSS COST action meeting in Würzburg

Three ICCLab members were in sunny Würzburg for the ACROSS COST action meeting last week. ACROSS stands for “Autonomous Control for a Reliable Internet of Services” and our own TMB is a member of the management committee (MC) for Switzerland.
For those of you unfamiliar with COST actions, they are an instrument for research funding from the EU that provides networking opportunities for researchers.

The meeting was spread over three days with:

  • The 1st ACROSS Open Workshop on Autonomous Control for the Internet of Services on Tuesday;
  • Task forces and Management Committee on Wednesday;
  • Plenary and work group meetings on Thursday.

The keynote speakers for the workshop gave motivating talks that spawned interesting discussions on autonomous control spanning multiple domains including mobile, compute, and application-level quality of experience (QoE). The keynote speakers were: Marco Hoffmann from Nokia Networks, Thomas Zinner from Würzburg University, and Maris van Sprang from IBM.

ICClab’s Giovanni Toffetti (that’s me!) gave a talk on the Mobile Cloud Networking (MCN) project motivation and architecture. Here are the slides I used for the talk: MCN-Vision-Scope-Architecture.

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Giovanni Toffetti Carughi

Giovanni Toffetti Carughi is a senior lecturer in the InIT Cloud Computing Lab and SPLab at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences.

Apart from country hopping, in the last 15 years Giovanni has had is fair share of startup, academic, and large industry research experience.
He graduated in 2001 from Politecnico di Milano (PoliMi) after a 5 years engineering degree, and right away joined WebRatio in the early days of WebML.
He received his PhD in information technology from PoliMi in 2007 with a thesis on modelling and code generation of data-intensive rich internet applications.

He then went on to be a postdoc and a research fellow respectively at the University of Lugano (USI), and University College London (UCL).
In January 2013 he joined the IBM Haifa research labs where he was part of the cloud operating systems team until early December 2014.

During his professional career Giovanni has been involved with different roles in several EU funded projects, namely PLASTIC, RESERVOIR, UNIVERSELF, and FIWARE.

His main research interest are currently cloud robotics, cloud-native applications with a focus on elasticity/scalability/availability, web engineering, and cluster schedulers.

At InIT, Giovanni is currently leading the Cloud Robotics initiative.
You can contact him at toff(at)

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