Amazon introduced AWS IoT RoboRunner during a keynote address at its Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent 2021 conference – a new robotics service meant to make it easier for organisations to build and deploy apps that enable fleets of robots to work together. Along with IoT RoboRunner, Amazon introduced the AWS Robotics Startup Accelerator, a joint venture with MassRobotics to address automation, robotics, and industrial internet of things (IoT) concerns.
Robotics adoption — and automation adoption more broadly — has intensified as the epidemic spurs digital reforms. According to recent research from Automation World, most businesses that adopted robots in the last year did so to reduce labour expenses, enhance capacity, and overcome a labour shortage. According to the same poll, 44.9 per cent of businesses now consider robots a vital component of daily operations in their assembly and manufacturing plants.
IoT RoboRunner, which is now in preview, leverages the robotics management technologies already in use at Amazon warehouses. It enables AWS clients to connect robots and current automation software to orchestrate work across operations by combining data from each type of robot in a fleet and standardising data types such as facility, location, and robotic job data in a centralised repository.
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According to Amazon, the purpose of IoT RoboRunner is to streamline the process of developing management apps for robot fleets. As organisations increasingly rely on robotics to automate their operations, they are selecting various types of robots, complicating the task of efficiently organising them. Each robot vendor and work management system has its proprietary control software, data format, and data repository, frequently incompatible. Additionally, when a new robot is added to a fleet, programming is required to integrate the control software with work management systems and develop the logic for management applications.
Source: AWS IoT RoboRunner
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IoT RoboRunner enables developers to access the data required to construct robotics management apps and leverage prebuilt software libraries to create apps for activities such as work allocation. Additionally, IoT RoboRunner can be used to transmit measurements and key performance indicators (KPIs) to administrative dashboards via APIs.
IoT RoboRunner competes with robotics management platforms from companies such as Freedom Robotics and Exotec. However, Amazon argues that IoT RoboRunner’s integration with AWS — including SageMaker, Greengrass, and SiteWise — provides it with a competitive edge.
“With AWS IoT RoboRunner, robotics developers can eliminate the requirement for siloed robot management and more effectively automate operations across a facility with centralised control,” Amazon noted in a blog post. “As we look to the future, we envision more businesses investing in a variety of different sorts of robots. While harnessing the power of all those robots is complicated, we are committed to assisting organisations in maximising the value of their automation by simplifying robot optimisation through a single system view.”
Accelerator for AWS Robotics Startups
Amazon also introduced the Robotics Startup Accelerator, which will help encourage robotics startups by offering resources to help them create, prototype, test, and commercialise their products and services. “By leveraging AWS’ technical capabilities and network, the strategic relationship will enable robotics startups and the industry at large to explore and innovate, while also connecting startups and their technologies to the AWS customer base,” Amazon noted in a blog post.
AWS IoT-enabled robotics application RoboRunner integrates with AWS IoT SiteWise for metric collection, Amazon SageMaker for task allocation using machine learning, and AWS IoT Greengrass for developing, deploying, and managing device software. With AWS IoT RoboRunner, robotics developers can eliminate the requirement for siloed robot management and more effectively automate activities across an entire facility with centralised control.
The AWS IoT RoboRunner service is currently in preview and may be accessed via the AWS Console.