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Going ROG: Why Robot Operations Got a Manifesto

Florian Pestoni

The term manifesto is usually reserved for political or artistic declarations around the intentions, motives or views of an individual or group, but in recent years the technology world has seen its share of manifestos from various groups.

Explanation of a new technology, term, or the goals of such a group are seen in manifestos such as the GNU Manifesto (1985), The Hacker Manifesto (1986), The Third Manifesto (1995), and The Agile Manifesto (2001), which fundamentally changed how software is built.

It is in that spirit that we founded the Robot Operations Group (ROG - pronounced “rogue”) with a group of robotics leaders and have just released the Robot Operations Manifesto. The ROG’s mission is to further the creation of best practices for robot operations at scale. We felt that, while there are already many places to learn about how to build a robot, when it comes to the challenges that emerge when growing from 50 to 5,000 robots, there just wasn’t a venue for discussion and learning.

In true engineering/entrepreneurial fashion, we saw the need and decided to do something about it, so we set out to build a virtual discussion space for a global community interested in exchanging ideas with some of the experts in this emerging field and learning together. Members of the group join as individuals. They come from companies, academia and organizations across industries and around the world to share ideas that drive the growth of robotics.

The ROG hopes that “the principles described in the manifesto will help a new generation of innovators drive change in traditional industries, making them more efficient, reducing error rates, protecting the health of human workers, lowering operational costs and ultimately delivering more customer value.”

At InOrbit, our mission is to accelerate the adoption of robotics at scale across industries. We have created several tools that allow established robotics companies, as well as startups deploying robotics in the field and OEMs developing new robotic systems, to get a better understanding of their robot operations, or RobOps.

InOrbit is one of the proud sponsors of ROG. There are also people from Brain Corp, Bossa Nova Robotics and Amazon, as well as various startups, large equipment manufacturers and universities. But just as important as having access to the right tools is applying best practices instead of reinventing the flat tire.

The ROG does not push a single company’s tools or platform, nor a particular technical solution, but rather encourages the open discussion of the challenges and approaches to address them. To get the conversation started, the ROG has identified four pillars that work together to solve problems at scale in this space:

  • Monitoring / observability - finding problems
  • Configuration management - mitigating problems
  • Safety, security and auditing - preventing problems
  • Interventions - fixing problems when they occur.

Across all of the pillars, the group acknowledges the role of interoperability and orchestration of multiple robots, as well as integration with other line-of-business software.

Just the starting point

The Robot Operations Manifesto is just the beginning -- this is meant to be a living document that will grow and expand based on the needs of the ROG membership. To that end, the group holds regular online meetings and maintains a moderated message-board.

We want ROG to have as many perspectives as possible to help realize the potential of robotics. We are always looking for new members to participate in these discussions. If you want to get involved, visit robops.org, sign up for the Meetup Group and join the Discourse discussion group (invite code: RobOps).