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Orchestrating our Thoughts on RobOps

By Team InOrbit

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…

  • In our latest post for the Forbes Technology Council, we discussed how the workforce of the future will be able to work with robots from anywhere, thanks to cloud-controlled technologies. In essence,  everyone could be a robot boss in the future. This also ties into the concept of Software-Defined X, which we wrote about a few months ago.
  • In a Control Design article, we highlighted the next step for many warehouses in which robots work together in harmony with other robots and humans. A world where “No robot is an island” is coming sooner than you think.
  • InOrbit CEO Florian Pestoni was recently a guest for part of Mobile Robotics Week, discussing “Autonomous Mobile Robot Orchestration at Scale.” Registration is required, but it’s free and you can watch the webinar on-demand once registered.
  • With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, we’re very thankful to be included in Automation World’s New Technology Companies to Watch article, which highlights InOrbit and seven other companies helping manufacturers improve their production and supply chain issues. Thanks!

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.”

A3 2021_Roundtable- Interoperability for AMRs- Exploring the path forward.mp4

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.