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Orchestrating Robots, Humans, and Other Robots Requires Openness

By Team InOrbit

Robot operations (RobOps) is not just about making sure robots and humans work well together to complete tasks. It’s also about getting robots and other robots to work well together, especially as an increasing number of companies deploy different robot systems to handle multiple tasks.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the warehouse and logistics space, where deployments of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) have exploded in recent years. This could be due to the ‘Amazon effect’ and growth of e-commerce in general, or within the past year of pandemic-related surges in online ordering, from consumers looking to stay out of physical stores. As more AMRs are deployed in warehouses, the number of different robot systems that may end up needing to talk to each other also grows. The “I word” – interoperability – has been getting more attention over the past few years.

At InOrbit, we’ve always been a robot-agnostic company, which means it doesn’t matter what robot is being utilized – our platform works with any robot. Robots based on ROS or ROS-2 are especially easy to configure, but we have activated InOrbit on several non-standard platforms as well.

Many within the robotics community are beginning to ask questions about interoperability, and we’re no different. It’s one of the reasons for our support of the MassRobotics AMR Interoperability Standard, which can help advance RobOps by allowing different robots to talk with each other. Our team of engineers has made contributions to the MassRobotics standard, and we are working with other groups to support their interoperability efforts. We are also expanding our participation in open-source related groups to help out wherever we can.

With MassRobotics AMR interoperability, robots that support the MassRobotics-AMR-Sender protocol will work with the InOrbit cloud platform, without the need to install any additional software on the robots. This enables manufacturers and adopters of compliant AMRs to benefit from RobOps best practices, including operational monitoring of a diverse fleet within minutes, tracking a robot’s health and incidents in real time, and understanding their behavior through our new Time Capsule feature.

Julian Cerruti, our CTO, will be speaking about the critical need for interoperability across AMR manufacturers at a special webinar sponsored by MassRobotics, on Thursday, July 22. You can register for the free webinar here.