Cloud robotics is helping countless warehouses thrive in the face of challenges. Robots were challenging to access and implement in the past. Equipment might be too expensive for some businesses, while programming and processing might be out of reach for others. However, with cloud robotics, integration is straightforward.
Warehouses are getting the equipment they need, along with flexibility and ease of use. The benefit of cloud robotics is making it the leading innovation in the industry. What is revolutionary about this technology, though? How does it work?
Cloud robotics combines today’s top tech innovations into a friendly, productive package.
Cloud robotics combines robotic engineering with the processing power of cloud computing. The cloud has countless applications, from everyday storage to AI computing power. Cloud computing basically outsources processing power and allows people to access high-intensity processing using a company’s servers.
A business may want to run a high-power artificial intelligence program but does not have the equipment to do so. Cloud computing allows that to happen through off-site servers. It is a way of extending computing capabilities without investing in new hardware.
Millions of people do this with cloud storage. Rather than buying a phone with more built-in memory, they offload old data into storage provided by Google, Dropbox or another company.
Cloud robotics applies this off-site computing power to robotics. Today’s warehouses and fulfillment centers benefit greatly from robots. In fact, autonomous warehouse machines are among the top trends in warehouse automation worldwide. Robots cannot do anything without being carefully programmed. Developing a new robot, even a simple one, can be lengthy and expensive. Fitting processing hardware into smaller machines can be a challenge, as well.
Cloud robotics allows many robots to share one brain, rather than each carrying around their own. Warehouses can use this technology to run a whole fleet seamlessly. Processing power is kept in the cloud, allowing them to be easily reprogrammed to perform new tasks. It also makes it easy to combine the skills of numerous robots, even mismatched models.
Warehouses and fulfillment centers are critical to everyday life and modern commerce. Any time someone orders an item online, it will pass through a warehouse at some point. Merchandise is typically stored in warehouses, where it must be picked and sorted to fulfill an order. One facility might have to process thousands of orders a day. This results in high staffing needs with highly demanding hours.
Many warehouses have begun utilizing robots as a supplement to employees. In fact, the warehouse automation market is worth over $15 billion and is projected to grow to $30 billion by 2026. Robots play a critical role, including pick-and-pack machines and automated guided vehicles. Warehouse robots are often collaborative robots, or cobots. These robots are designed to work side by side with humans. They often help with repetitive or dangerous tasks, such as picking and transporting items.
Sensors connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) are frequently used in warehouse robotics. They allow the robot to detect its surroundings as well as collect and report performance data. Many warehouse robots also use RFID or QR code scanning to identify objects and navigate the warehouse space.
Most warehouses require a whole fleet of robots to be truly effective. One or two will be helpful, but not on a significant scale. Various machines are often needed, as well. For example, a facility might want a flat robot to transport one large item. It might also need another one equipped with an upright set of shelves to carry multiple items. Additionally, the warehouse might have UV sanitizing robots and other utility bots helping out around the facility.
These robots all need to be programmed differently. However, they also need to be able to work together effectively. Cloud robotics is perfect for this.
Cloud robotics has many applications, but it is ideal for warehouses. These facilities benefit from a fleet of varied robots. They need high-value models that are affordable in large quantities. The robots must be mobile and capable of working safely with humans. Additionally, the best ones are versatile and can perform multiple tasks with the right programming. Cloud robotics offers many benefits for these specific needs, revolutionizing the warehouse robotics world.
Cloud robotics can be easier for businesses to invest in because it does not require servers or high-performance computers. Since the collective brain of the robots is outsourced, organizations only need to worry about buying the machines themselves. This makes it more affordable to integrate robots into a warehouse.
Some warehouses will buy many of the same base robots with various accessories. For example, Fetch Robotics has a basic rover that can be fitted with several utility attachments. A facility could purchase several of the same ones and assign different jobs. Cloud computing allows the robots to be rapidly programmed and remotely managed. There is no need to buy new robots or develop new programming if requirements change over time. The existing robots can simply be assigned new tasks through the cloud.
Often there are even existing program libraries for certain cloud robot platforms. Dedicated cloud robotics companies often have well-developed platforms that are faster than onboard computers. For example, the SLAM cloud computing infrastructure generates a 3D model of the physical world for mapping the robot’s location in real-time. This processing capability allows warehouses to achieve incredible results even without cutting-edge computing infrastructure.
One of the best advantages of cloud robotics is variety. Warehouses need robots in a range of roles, meaning they might need models from different developers. Similarly, they might use the same robot in various ways. Cloud computing can accommodate that variety efficiently.
For example, a warehouse might want a fleet of courier robots for transporting items between employees. However, they may not know the best routes at first. A flexible cloud robotics platform allows them to quickly reprogram the robots as needed until they find the perfect configuration of routes around the facility. This can be done much more efficiently with cloud robotics than with traditionally programmed robots.
Cloud computing makes it easy to combine the skills of various robots by streamlining coding and processing. A whole fleet can be managed seamlessly when everything is done off-site, making it easy to quickly reassign robots or test different configurations. Optimizing a large mix of robots well is one of the main goals of Amazon’s cloud robotics platform, based on the machines used in its warehouses.
Cloud robotics is especially valuable for warehouses that lack a dedicated expert. Thanks to the growing program libraries of many platforms, anyone can program the robots. Integrating sensors for management and data collection is easy, too. The processing can be run through the cloud, so new sensors become essentially plug-and-play.
Robotics is becoming more important in the workplace as more businesses struggle to find enough skilled employees. This leaves many warehouses in a difficult position. They have many unfilled jobs, but demand is not going down. Access to effective robotics can be a lifeboat for warehouses today. Cloud robotics is affordable and easy to use, opening the doors for many businesses to integrate them into their operations.
Many people are unaware of how much goes making and shipping an item. Robotics play an important role in these complex processes. Cloud robotics is invaluable for keeping up with demand, and this technology represents the future of warehouse and logistics robots. Accessible computing power and easy-to-use programming allow cloud robotics to help warehouses survive and thrive.