Individual instruments in the hands of a professional musician can sound wonderful, but when many different instruments come together in an orchestra or band the result can be awe-inspiring and magical.
We think the same thing can be said about robots and robot operations (RobOps). Individually, a single robot can perform some pretty amazing tasks to help human co-workers with their jobs. But when you add several robots and then add different types of robots to the system performing different tasks, the end result can be an amazing workflow that exponentially scales efficiency for a company.
But an orchestra needs orchestration, which is why many orchestras have a conductor who directs the different musicians to work together, in harmony (if you’ll pardon the pun). Back in the robot world, we are not completely there yet – many data platforms just don’t work together with other platforms, and it sounds a lot like a tuba and flute playing at the same time without any rhyme or reason.
Here at InOrbit, we’ve recently been talking a lot about orchestration, especially as it relates to RobOps. This critical element has always been one of our “Four Os”, but it’s also a window into the broader discussion around managing complex systems (say a heterogenous robot fleet) at scale. As systems grow and robot manufacturers need to be positioned to rapidly adapt, to do that they’ll need strong RobOps. In the interest of helping to orchestrate many of these ideas for you in a handy package, here’s just some of what we’ve been talking about recently. A one, a two, a one two three four…
We’re also not the only ones exploring the need for orchestration. At the recent A3 Autonomous Mobile & Logistics conference, FedEx’s Aaron Prather had this to say about the need for better coordination:
“We need robots to do this over here, and this robot needs to cross that area in order to go do its mission. So it’s not just a logistics thing – logistics is probably going to be the biggest driver of this, but we already have the big manufacturers saying this is a problem too.”
Thankfully, with strong RobOps support, and more dedicated thought leadership devoted to coordination and collaboration, we’re seeing robot manufacturers and end-users start to better understand and embrace an orchestrated approach to robots at scale. That is how we’ll achieve lasting harmony.