How cloud robotics will generate new value chains and business models – with 5G the enabler

Cloud robotics is set to generate new value chains, technologies, architectures and business models, according to a new paper.

The report, put together by GTI, a body focusing on the TD-LTE (time division long term evolution) ecosystem alongside SoftBank, CloudMinds, China Mobile, Huawei and Skymind, argues the advantages of cloud robots, with the same common network, are threefold; information sharing, offloaded computation, and collaboration.

One of the examples the report looks at – or gives an image of – is a machine learning project Google undertook last year featuring an array of robots sharing experiences to improve their grasping ability. “A human child is able to reliably grasp objects after one year, and takes around four years to acquire more sophisticated precision grasps,” the researchers wrote. “However, networked robots can instantaneously share their experience with one another, so if we dedicate 14 separate robots to the job of learning grasping in parallel, we can acquire the necessary experience much faster.”

Hence the potential of cloud as a common medium. The report argues the possibilities and use cases are many; from intelligent visual processing, to natural language processing, to facial recognition, giving opportunities in logistics, security, and education among others. According to Tractica, the value of the global robot market will grow from $34.1 billion in 2016 to $226.2bn in 2021.

By 2020, GTI adds, the proportion of connected robots globally will be 90%, with approximately 20 million new connections needed every year to support their day to day operations. The key to its success, the report argues, is 5G.

As 5G progresses, three application scenarios are predicted; enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine type communications (mMTC), and ultra-reliable and low latency communications (URLLC), backed up by software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV). For issues in cloud robotics, such as real-time control, video and voice processing, 5G, network slicing, and mobile edge computing, will fit the bill for applications.

“Network slices that have different specific performance characteristics can match the requirements of cloud robotics, match the needs for power consumption at the robot terminal, and provide appropriate roaming,” the report argues. “Using these approaches, 5G networks will also be able to meet the most demanding requirements in terms of bandwidth, latency and security.”

You can read the full report here.