SOGETI UK BLOG

robotics-handsmeetIn the first part of this series of blog posts, I spoke about two aspects of the new land of convergence – RoBIoTICS and the convergence between robotics and biology domains. Today, I look at the convergence of robotics and the Internet of Things.

RoB-IoT-ICS  – Convergence of Robotics and “Internet of Things” (IoT) domains

Internet of Things and Robotics are both highly synergistic domains. So what does the intersection of both mean?

Robotics and IoT are much more than connected devices. Robotics is actually a continuum: It moves from pure automation, which basically has devices sensing and acting, to robotics which connects and senses its environment and then acts in the physical world. Over the last ten years, a lot of communication technologies have been developed that directly supports the robotics industry sector. Some robotics sectors are actually using some direct research  from communication domains such as facial recognition or natural language processing.

The impact of IoT on Robotics starts with the sensors. The more they proliferate in the environment, the more robotics will use these capabilities of sensing. Sensing with manipulation capabilities endows robots with specific capabilities (physical motion and movements), which set them apart from other automated systems. The IoT domain can support robotics to offer additional mobility and navigation features, and thus enable robots to move from one point to another.

Multiple new streams of research, currently underway, will soon allow devices the capability of knowing and self-describing themselves. Soon, everything from IoT will have a known location, and the environment will be mapped easily by robots. These maps will in turn be updated in real time by adding newer IoT devices. These advanced capabilities will make it easier for robots to move about in an unknown environment, locate robots wherever they may be, and assist robots moving from place to place.

Self-describing objects with tangible data structure will not only enable moving capabilities, but also object recognition and manipulation from robots. Robots need to know their environment, recognize objects in their environment in an autonomous way to be able to manipulate them. Visual Object recognition could be difficult to accomplish, as it typically relies on complex visioning systems, intensive 3D modeling processing, and generally web connectivity and cloud-based processing. Using descriptors embedded in real objects (or having objects with self-description capabilities able to communicate) could greatly improve object recognition by robots. This technique will allow robots to recognize objects easily, making it the first step to manipulate objects.

In addition, if an object has the capability to tell where it is and what it is then robots can use this information effectively.

Ro Image 3

Robots have always been highly “sensored”. They are able to fuse sensor information from a lot of IoT connected devices in their environment and pre-process data locally, before sending it to remote devices, services, and cloud-based service. But IoT can also use the robotics capabilities as an advanced type of sensing system:  robots can be used as a sort of advanced sensors gateway with very powerful processing power for IoT devices, for example, by providing to IoT objects the connectivity up to the cloud and other distributed systems.

In addition many robots exist, and they are clearly social entities. They can sense and act in their environment thanks to IoT, but can also support face and speech recognition, or Natural Language Processing to act directly with humans, and in a near future, even be part of them.

It is clear that Robotics and IoT domains are fully interconnected, and enrich each other.  We can easily envision what the future is going to be with biology, micro & nano technologies, and the future potential convergence in these domains. The convergence between humans and Robotics is clearly underway.

(To be continued)… watch this space for the next blog post!

 

David Excoffier AUTHOR:
David Excoffier worked for seven years in the aeronautic and spatial fields in Toulouse (France) on civil and military projects. He coached customer's architects and developers teams to properly build embedded software on international projects such as Earth observation satellites, or Flight Management System of the military Airbus A400M.

Posted in: Automation Testing, Cloud, communication, functional testing, Innovation, Internet of Things, Research, Robotics, Security, Smart, Social Aspects, Transformation, User Experience, User Interface, user stories      
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unimaterobot970

Los Angeles Times Betty Myrah served a cup of

coffee from Unimate, a 3,500-pound robot

RoBIoTICS = A new land of convergence

Since the first industrial robot appeared in factories in the mid-twentieth century, robots have spread across to many domains – factories, the space, and more recently hospitals, homes or even your gardens!

Robots are a powerful factor of competitiveness, and their capabilities are evolving constantly, with new sensors, more processing power, or adaptation capabilities to their environment. A new generation of robots is emerging almost every year: playful or educational robots, robots for mobility assistance, body exploration, robotic prosthesis, robots embedded in cars, and so forth. Robots are in fact, becoming more anthropomorphic and potentially easier to accept for everyone.

However, there are still a lot of challenges ahead in many robotic domains such as personal robotics, automation/robotizing of transportation, medical robotics, robotics of exploration in hostile zones, robotics of services, miniaturization of robots, a formidable aspect being the  societal challenges of robotics.

Ro Image 1

Robots are becoming pervasive in our lives, being entrusted to carry out tasks that humans usually perform. Robots are opening up new opportunities for entertainment and leisure activities, while being dependable and easy to interact with. Hospitals, factories and offices have conceptually similar requirements, but robots need to be adapted to their specific environments. Robots have been active in hospitals, factories and offices for years, performing a lot of miscellaneous tasks, such as the ‘MOnarCH MBOT’ operating at the IPOL Hospital in Lisbon (seen in this picture).

Two FP7 European-funded projects currently bring robots to our service:

  • RoCKIn (“Robot Competitions Kick Innovation in Cognitive Systems and Robotics”) which organizes robot competitions that challenge researchers to develop robots to support humans in domestic and industrial tasks.
  • MOnarCH (“Multi-Robot Cognitive Systems Operating in Hospitals”), which developed networked heterogeneous robots and sensors that interact with children, staff, and visitors, engaging in health-improving edutainment activities, in the pediatric infirmary of an oncologic hospital.

 

 

MOnarCH targets the development and demonstration of a team of mobile robots networked with other devices (i.e., a networked robot system, or NRS), such as video cameras, in the pediatric area of an oncological hospital, where they engage in health-improving edutainment activities with kids and staff.

The domain of Robotics is evolving fast. It is no more a closed ecosystem, and this evolution brings the convergence of new technical and business domains, new technologies, and very active R&D, adding new capabilities, new services and new use-cases to current robots.

A new “meta” domain is currently being born, that I call “RoBIoTics”, at the junction of many other innovative domains!

RoBIoTics is a new promised land of convergence for the next decades: Let’s discover why!

  1. Ro-Bio-TICS = “Biology” – convergence of Robotics and Biology domains

Robotics and Biology are pro-active fields of investigation, also often known as “BioRobotics”. But now, research in biology and robotics are converging faster to create hybrid entities:

  • Robots assisted chirurgic allow less invasive interventions, and bring more precision in surgeons’ gestures thanks to new haptic interfaces.
  • Robotic prosthesis and substitutes help disabled people replace their failed or cut organs:
    • Exoskeletons help disabled people to walk better/again
    • Miniaturized robotized endoscopic capsules to explore inside human body
    • Robotic hand prosthesis allows amputees to use biomechanical hand(s) in place of their biological one(s)
    • “Bionic” (robotic) eyes are becoming a reality and bionic vision is evolving rapidly. See how
    • And some early-phase research made on electric spinal implants could lead to help paralyzed people walk again in the future

With the advents of 3D printing, new fields of research could also drive Robotics to become more “human friendly”:

 

  • By creating robotic ears which look like real biological ears for example.
  • Ro Image 2By providing 3D printed robotic hand workshops to help design future prosthetics, such as OpenBionics
  • By bringing together 3DPrinter owners with children who need hand prothesis such as the American association e-Nable
  • Or by proposing robots everyone can build such as “Poppy” proposed by an open platform, with its 3D-printed body and its behavior programmed by the user

 

 

 

Outside of health/hospital domains, Robotics and Biology researches are also very proactive, e.g. by studying biological organisms to develop better robots, or building robots to better understand biological organisms:

The Biology-Robotics field is a very active domain for a long time now, and it has a promising and bright future, with incredible new innovations, revolutions, and interactions with humans or its environment. This convergence is going to accelerate in the years to come and a lot of innovations and surprises will soon be available for your everyday use.

But RoBIoTics is not only about Biology, other hot domains are currently converging and enriching Robotics with their own innovations. Let’s go deeper into it in my next blog posts.

(To be continued)… watch this space for the next blog post!

 

David Excoffier AUTHOR:
David Excoffier worked for seven years in the aeronautic and spatial fields in Toulouse (France) on civil and military projects. He coached customer's architects and developers teams to properly build embedded software on international projects such as Earth observation satellites, or Flight Management System of the military Airbus A400M.

Posted in: 3D printing, Automation Testing, Human Behaviour, Human Interaction Testing, Innovation, integration tests, Quality Assurance, Research, Robotics, Security, Social Aspects, Software Development, Test environment, Testing and innovation, Transitioning, User Experience, User Interface      
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Hi there! In my previous two posts, I spoke at length about the convergence between robotics-and-biology and robotics-and-the-Internet of Things. In the concluding post of this series, I take a close look at the ethics and challenges surrounding robotics.

RoBIo-Tics – The ethics challenge

Robots could rapidly be part of our everyday’s life. But this “invasion” of robots in our lives faces some conflicts with some parts of society. Even if most robots are seen as friendly, there are detractors that have hostile reactions towards robots. A part of this hostility stems from the mis-conceptions that robots are created to participate in social interactions with humans, despite being aliens, or mechanical entities.

To overcome this hostility, researchers are working on humanizing robots that are able to mimic human gestural, affective, or linguistic behaviors. This new generation of robots breaks the boundaries of human life and are considered a part of the society.

Beyond this philosophical aspect, a religious aspect is also involved: Creating more humanized robots (able to reason and showing human-like emotions) can be seen by some people as a way of playing God, which puts a brake to the adoption of these robots.

Ro Image 4

Human robot recently invented by Japanese scientist, inventor, and professor Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro.

In addition to these social aspects, a lot of ethical questions come up:

  • Increasingly, robots are fully autonomous systems, without any human control. How can they act ethically?
  • There is a risk that robots built to create social links with elders or disabled people could lead these subjects to even more social isolation from real people.
  • Creating robots to cure disabled people must be done with their consent. Robots should not force people against their will.
  • Scientists are creating android robots, mimicking real human body and faces. For the moment, we still see the difference between an android and a real person, but in ten years, when behavior, skin texture and color will be perfectly reproduced, how these robots will be used in everyday life still remains an unanswered question.
  • Military research also creates robots that are able to move by themselves, looking more and more like creatures in the movie Terminator, or like animals. What about ethics rules in the military domain?

Isaac Asimov, the famed science fiction author  introduced “Three Rules of Robotics” in his 1942 short story “Runaround” which was dedicated to help creating robots with the objective to protect people. The Three Laws were:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

We are not in a science-fiction book, and these rules are clearly not applicable in our real world (yet) and current robots. Today, robots have the basic “intelligence” to implement such behavior, but sooner or later, robots will be smart enough to understand their environment, and decide their action on their own, in a human world. Acting ethically is a hope.

The complex thing is to understand how ethics could be computed: How is it possible to represent “ethics” and put ethical principles in a robot? How can we let robots understand their environments and differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ action?  By using machine learning and artificial intelligence it is possible to take cases of human ethical dilemmas and feed robots with these scenarios, in order to process these cases and let robots “understand” some ethical process.

We, humans, cannot act at all without making certain value judgments. That’s behind everything we do and is perhaps the most important thing that drives human behavior.  What could an autonomous robot do with inadequate or deviant behaviour? Would you accept a machine which is not driven by ethics telling you what to do in your everyday life?

As an example, a group of Swiss artists created an artificial intelligence bot dedicated to buy things on an internet underground marketplace. The group provided a budget of $100 in bitcoins per week to this “Random Darknet Shopper” AI bot. Once a week the bot goes on a shopping spree in the deep web where it randomly chooses and purchases one item and has it mailed to the artists. The artists receive (by postal mail) a lot of incongruous objects ordered by this Artificial Intelligence bot, some of which include counterfeit Vuitton bags, Diesel jeans, and drugs (Ecstasy pills). The letter containing drugs was seized by Swiss police, but also all objects bought by this Artificial Intelligence bot, and the PC where the AI was running too. This is the first Artificial Intelligence bot arrested by the Police!!!

“Can a robot, or a piece of software, be jailed if it commits a crime? Where does legal culpability lie, if the code is criminal by design or default? What if a robot buys drugs, weapons, or hacking equipment and has them sent to you, and police intercept the package?» These are some of the questions Mike Power asked when he reviewed the work «Random Darknet Shopper» in The Guardian.

New robots are becoming more autonomous, smarter, doing things on their own, and interacting more and more with human beings. Robots definitely need to follow some ethical guidelines in order to be better accepted by the society.

These philosophical, religious and ethical aspects are very complex, and the ethics issues must fully take their place in the “RoBIoTics” domain.

The last word…

It is a fact that robots are going to be everywhere in the near future: For decades they were stuck in industry domains, but now robots are integrating, merging, and mixing innovation from a lot of different domains. They are becoming more specialized, more powerful and more efficient than ever, and are at the source of new emerging domains: Professional & Personal Services Robotics, micro & nano robots, robots dedicated to replace failed organs or augment human capabilities, etc.

If Service Robotics can be considered as a promising sector in the next few years, the convergence of many technological domains and innovation accelerators into a (meta-)domain I have named “RoBIoTics” is very inspiring and full of great promises.

The convergence of many heterogeneous business and technical domains are going to enrich the promised land of RoBIoTics: This mega-convergence will definitely create incredible new disruptions, and  RoBIoTics is certainly one of the most exciting new converging (meta-)domain of the next decades.

Ro Image 5

Related posts:

David Excoffier AUTHOR:
David Excoffier worked for seven years in the aeronautic and spatial fields in Toulouse (France) on civil and military projects. He coached customer's architects and developers teams to properly build embedded software on international projects such as Earth observation satellites, or Flight Management System of the military Airbus A400M.

Posted in: component testing, Environmental impact, Human Behaviour, Human Interaction Testing, Innovation, integration tests, Internet of Things, Micro & Nano Technologies, Open Innovation, Research, Robotics, Security, Social Aspects, Socio-technical systems, Software Development, Software testing, Test Driven Development, User Experience, User Interface      
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Hi! In the first part of this series of blog posts, I spoke about two aspects of the new land of convergence – RoBIoTICS and the convergence between robotics and biology domains. Today, I look at the convergence of robotics and the Internet of Things.

RoB-IoT-ICS  – Convergence of Robotics and “Internet of Things” (IoT) domains

Internet of Things and Robotics are both highly synergistic domains. So what does the intersection of both mean?

Robotics and IoT are much more than connected devices. Robotics is actually a continuum: It moves from pure automation, which basically has devices sensing and acting, to robotics which connects and senses its environment and then acts in the physical world. Over the last ten years, a lot of communication technologies have been developed that directly supports the robotics industry sector. Some robotics sectors are actually using some direct research  from communication domains such as facial recognition or natural language processing.

The impact of IoT on Robotics starts with the sensors. The more they proliferate in the environment, the more robotics will use these capabilities of sensing. Sensing with manipulation capabilities endows robots with specific capabilities (physical motion and movements), which set them apart from other automated systems. The IoT domain can support robotics to offer additional mobility and navigation features, and thus enable robots to move from one point to another.

Multiple new streams of research, currently underway, will soon allow devices the capability of knowing and self-describing themselves. Soon, everything from IoT will have a known location, and the environment will be mapped easily by robots. These maps will in turn be updated in real time by adding newer IoT devices. These advanced capabilities will make it easier for robots to move about in an unknown environment, locate robots wherever they may be, and assist robots moving from place to place.

Self-describing objects with tangible data structure will not only enable moving capabilities, but also object recognition and manipulation from robots. Robots need to know their environment, recognize objects in their environment in an autonomous way to be able to manipulate them. Visual Object recognition could be difficult to accomplish, as it typically relies on complex visioning systems, intensive 3D modeling processing, and generally web connectivity and cloud-based processing. Using descriptors embedded in real objects (or having objects with self-description capabilities able to communicate) could greatly improve object recognition by robots. This technique will allow robots to recognize objects easily, making it the first step to manipulate objects.

In addition, if an object has the capability to tell where it is and what it is then robots can use this information effectively.

Ro Image 3

Robots have always been highly “sensored”. They are able to fuse sensor information from a lot of IoT connected devices in their environment and pre-process data locally, before sending it to remote devices, services, and cloud-based service. But IoT can also use the robotics capabilities as an advanced type of sensing system:  robots can be used as a sort of advanced sensors gateway with very powerful processing power for IoT devices, for example, by providing to IoT objects the connectivity up to the cloud and other distributed systems.

In addition many robots exist, and they are clearly social entities. They can sense and act in their environment thanks to IoT, but can also support face and speech recognition, or Natural Language Processing to act directly with humans, and in a near future, even be part of them.

It is clear that Robotics and IoT domains are fully interconnected, and enrich each other.  We can easily envision what the future is going to be with biology, micro & nano technologies, and the future potential convergence in these domains. The convergence between humans and Robotics is clearly underway.

(To be continued)…Watch this space for more…

Related posts:

  1. RoBIoTICS – The New Promised Land of Convergence – Part I
  2. Hyper-Convergence in Data Center: Promises and Reality
  3. Digital convergence requires transformation and omnichannel solutions
  4. WE ARE THE ROBOTS: TEST US (IF YOU CAN)

David Excoffier AUTHOR:
David Excoffier worked for seven years in the aeronautic and spatial fields in Toulouse (France) on civil and military projects. He coached customer's architects and developers teams to properly build embedded software on international projects such as Earth observation satellites, or Flight Management System of the military Airbus A400M.

Posted in: Automation Testing, Biology, Cloud, communication, Data structure, Environmental impact, Innovation, Micro & Nano Technologies, Software Development, Testing and innovation, User Interface      
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AIOTI - brandDuring the SIdO plenary session – a new professional event dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT) held in Lyon, France from April 7-8 – Mr. Mario Campolargo (Director, Net Futures – DG CONNECT, European Commission) insisted on the importance of the launch of the new Alliance Internet of Things for Innovation (AIOTI) two weeks ago, and announced that IoT will be a major focus for European Commission during 2016-2017.

The European Commission is, currently, supporting the development (in Europe) of the most dynamic and agile IoT ecosystem and industry in the world, which could really transform people’s lives, drive growth, create employment and address societal challenges. According to estimates, nearly five billion things will be connected by 2015, reaching 25 billion by 2020, helping users save energy, reduce traffic jams, increase comfort, and get better healthcare and increased independence. IoT will not only allow companies to change their traditional business models through new services, but will also help combine the benefits of selling products with value-added digital service.

Revenues in the EU from IoT are estimated to represent €400 million in 2015 and is expected to increase to more than one trillion euros in 2020.

The newly created Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation brings together:

  • Different industries:  nanoelectronics/semiconductor companies, Telecom companies, Network operators, Platform Providers (IoT/Cloud), Security, Service providers
  • Different sectors: energy, utilities, automotive, mobility, lighting, buildings, manufacturing, healthcare, supply chains, cities, etc.

AIOTI has already involved some of Europe’s largest tech and digital companies in this initiative:  Alcatel, Bosch, Cisco, Hildebrand, IBM, Intel, Landis+Gyr, Nokia, ON Semiconductor, Orange, OSRAM, Philips, Samsung, Schneider  Electric, Siemens, NXP Semiconductors, STMicroelectronics, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Telit, Thales, Vodafone, Volvo, and start-ups such as SIGFOX

AIOTI is organised as a lean structure with two layers: the Board (Steering Committee) and the Working Groups (WGs). The chairs of the WGs will be the members of the Board, thus any AIOTI member that would like to be part of the Board must also chair a WG. As AIOTI membership is not granted ad-personam, members may propose different representatives for the role within the Board and the respective working group.

The eleven WGs are structured as below, corresponding to current prominent areas of Internet of Things:

  • WG 1: IoT European Research Cluster
  • WG 2: Innovation Ecosystems
  • WG 3: IoT Standardisation
  • WG 4: Policy issues (trust, security, liability, privacy)
  • WG 5: Smart living environments for ageing well (e.g. smart house)
  • WG 6: Smart farming and food security
  • WG 7: Wearables
  • WG 8: Smart cities
  • WG 9: Smart mobility (smart transport/smart vehicles/connected cars)
  • WG 10: Smart environment (smart water management)
  • WG 11: Smart manufacturing

AIOTI

The current priority for the EC is to extend AIOTI memberships, not only to involve major IoT players, but also innovative SMEs, startups, or any entity that has a legitimate interest in joining this Alliance. The European Commission launched a call for expression of interest to join the Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation.

Europe’s goal is to be able to compete with USA or Japan, and make experimentation at a larger scale than today. The Commission published recently a €51 million call for IoT projects: The initiative cuts across several technological areas such as smart systems integration, cyber-physical systems, smart networks, and Big Data; and targets SME and IoT innovators to create an open IoT environment.

To read the original post and add comments, please visit the SogetiLabs blog: Alliance of Internet of Things for Innovation – A European initiative

 

Related Posts:

  1. Funding Internet of Things innovation out of Industrial Internet savings
  2. Funding Internet of Things innovation out of Industrial Internet savings
  3. 50 Disruptive European Finance Companies
  4. Europe’s position in the Internet of Things

 

David Excoffier AUTHOR:
David Excoffier worked for seven years in the aeronautic and spatial fields in Toulouse (France) on civil and military projects. He coached customer's architects and developers teams to properly build embedded software on international projects such as Earth observation satellites, or Flight Management System of the military Airbus A400M.

Posted in: Agile, Environmental impact, Innovation, Internet of Things, Open Innovation, Opinion, Smart, Transformation, Wearable technology, wearable technoloy      
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