Big or small, every feature we develop for the InOrbit platform has a purpose. Every capability we support is built to help make the lives of robot operators, developers, managers, and their customers easier. Building on the philosophy of experiment-led development we’ve learned that sometimes what may seem small can have a big impact. And quality of life updates add up to make software more robust and ultimately useful. Today we’re diving into InOrbit’s Hi-rez camera feature.
First a little background. At InOrbit we subscribe to an aggressive policy of data decimation for our users. Keeping data management costs under control while maintaining data quality and integrity is an important part of our approach to effective data management. Adaptive Diagnostics™ collect and transmit only the minimum information necessary for useful insights, and change dynamically depending on a robot's specific circumstances. That means InOrbit can offer the ability to throttle data up or down, adapting as needed to the situation.
Since we work with so many different robot manufacturers we have visibility into common pain points, opportunities, and in some cases misconceptions. For example, companies first getting into robotics often think they need full HD camera coverage 24/7 - but frankly this just isn’t the case.
Most companies who ask for this capability when first piloting robots in the real world have yet to realize that for the vast majority of cases low-rez camera feeds, and reduced frame rates are often completely sufficient or actually preferable for an operator to rest assured that a robot is performing its job accurately.
Robots regularly operate in environments, a warehouse for example, with inconsistent or limited wifi coverage. If a robot is connecting over a cellular signal efficient data management is even more critical. Prohibitive bandwidth costs can dramatically impact the success of an automation pilot.
InOrbit Standard Edition users have access to a series of pre-set camera configurations to cover various navigation and operational needs. While more extensive customization of camera capabilities are available when expressing select robot configurations as code, most users find these pre-set configurations are suitable for their robot deployments. And while we can certainly handle very high-resolution/low-latency video through our Advanced Video add-on, we’ve found that in most cases this is not only overkill but actually has a negative effect. Our priority is to give operators and roboticists “situational awareness”, not Netflix.
An operator on the InOrbit Control navigation dashboard may have access to switch between these views, depending on the permissions allocated to their role. Most likely they’re reviewing the navigation dashboard to investigate an autonomy exception. In these cases, increasing a camera’s quality for a limited time may be useful to understand why an exception has occurred or to intervene and navigate the robot elsewhere. The Hi-rez button is the solution for this common scenario. One click will set the selected camera to a high resolution and high quality, color image for exactly 60 seconds.
Limiting the time that Hi-rez is enabled saves the robot’s battery, uses the minimal network bandwidth required, limits RAM and CPU usage, which helps avoid performance effects or delays in handling other tasks on the platform, and saves hard-disk space on the robot. It’s a simple, but powerful tool. At InOrbit we strive to create features that add real value to our users’ day-to-day operations. Sometimes that means a small addition or redesign that improves the everyday use of our platform. The Hi-rez button is a great example of a small but useful feature.
Every week we release more useful features and capabilities both big and small. Drop us a line if you have a suggestion for InOrbit, and keep your eye peeled here until we highlight the next one.