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November 26, 2018      

Amazon Web Services today announced the availability of its AWS RoboMaker service, which gives robotics developers the chance to develop, test, and deploy robot applications and intelligent functions using cloud services.

Extending the features of the Robot Operating System (ROS), RoboMaker provides connectivity to AWS services, including machine learning, monitoring, and analytics services, Amazon said. This will give robots the ability to stream data, navigate, communicate, comprehend, and learn.

The RoboMaker service gives an AWS Cloud9-based robotics integrated development environment for application development, robotics simulation to accelerate application testing, and fleet management for remote application deployment, updates, and management.

Amazon said the process of developing, testing, and deploying intelligent robotics applications is “difficult, time consuming, and demands a diverse set of hard-to-acquire skills,” requiring the talents of data scientists as well as time to develop simulators, virtual environments, over-the-air systems, and more.

“AWS RoboMaker addresses these challenges by providing an integrated set of software and services for customers to develop, test, and deploy intelligent robotics applications at scale,” Amazon said in its announcement.

One-click access for robot application developers

A single click within the AWS Management Console can start the process for developers, automatically provisioning the underlying infrastructure and downloading, compiling and configuring the operating system, development software, and ROS. A simulation component lets developers set up large-scale and parallel simulations with prebuilt worlds, including indoor rooms, retail stores, and racing tracks, said Amazon, “so developers can test their applications on-demand and run multiple simulations in parallel.”

A fleet management component integrates with AWS Greengrass, supporting over-the-air deployment of robotics applications from the development environment onto the robot.

The service also supports additional ROS packages that connect to AWS services, including Amazon Kinesis Video Streams ingestion, Amazon Rekognition image and video analysis, speech recognition, speech generation, and CloudWatch logging and monitoring.

“When talking to our customers, we see the same pattern repeated over and again. They spend a lot of time setting up infrastructure and cobbling together software for different stages of the robotics development cycle, repeating work others have done before, leaving less time for innovation,” said Roger Barga, general manager, AWS RoboMaker. “AWS RoboMaker provides prebuilt functionality to support robotics developers during their entire project, making it significantly easier to build robots, simulate performance in various environments, iterate faster, and drive greater innovation.”

As part of AWS’s ongoing support for robotics and open source communities, AWS has made both source code and documentation of the AWS RoboMaker cloud extensions for ROS publicly available under the terms of the Apache Software License 2.0.

AWS contributes to the development of the latest version of ROS, namely ROS2, and is a member of the ROS2 Technical Steering Committee. AWS’s contributions to ROS2 include real-time messaging, security, and authentication, as well as working with the robotics community to migrate source code packages from ROS1 to ROS2.

“We regularly evaluate how we can use new technology to bring our customers a better experience,” said Brad Porter, VP and Distinguished Engineer, Robotics at Amazon. “Robotics has played a significant role in creating global solutions that help faster deliveries and lower costs for our customers.”

“We’re excited to have supported the creation of AWS RoboMaker and to stand behind a service that will help accelerate robotics development and commercial deployments,” he added. “We believe AWS RoboMaker will be impactful to advanced robotics operations across the world by greatly decreasing cost and time to production.”

How customers are using RoboMaker

From across the robotics development landscape, several companies and organizations are adopting RoboMaker, Amazon said.

Hamid Montazeri Stanley Black and Decker robot application developers

Hamid Montazeri, Stanley Black & Decker

“We are planning to use autonomous ground vehicles and drones to make the construction industry more productive while reducing construction rework costs,” said Hamid Montazeri, vice president of SW Engineering and Robotics at Stanley Black & Decker. “Using a variety of imaging sensors, the collected data can be used to create 3D site models for planning and streamlining construction activities.”

“With AWS RoboMaker, we are able to easily test the robotics related software applications in a cloud environment, and rapidly generate synthetic imaging data to train our 3D site model creation algorithms,” he said. “AWS RoboMaker also provides the ideal fleet management solution for use on ground vehicles and drones. The integration between AWS RoboMaker fleet management and AWS Greengrass makes it really easy to enable communications among ground vehicles, drones, and IoT solutions.”

Robot Care Systems (RCS) enables elderly and disabled people to live safely and independently through technology.

“AWS RoboMaker exponentially increases the capabilities of Lea, an autonomous robot assistant for the elderly and disabled,” said Dimitrios Chronopoulos, lead mobility engineer at Robot Care Systems. “Lea is interactive, keeps the elderly safe and active, while it can talk to you, navigate around your house and keep you connected with family and doctors.”

“We have used AWS RoboMaker cloud extensions for ROS to enhance Lea with video and telemetry data streaming, and voice interaction capabilities using services like Amazon Kinesis, Amazon Lex, and Amazon Polly,” Chronopoulos said. “These cloud services and extensions provided by AWS RoboMaker have enabled us to rapidly develop new features, while breaking the limitations of small on-board computing power.”

Open Robotics works with industry, academia, and government to create and support open source software for the global robotics industry, from R&D to commercial deployments.

“AWS’s support for our products, including ROS2, will significantly advance our goal of making open platforms the basis for all robotics applications,” said Brian Gerkey, CEO of Open Robotics. “With ROS and Gazebo available via AWS, it’s now easier than ever for developers to get started and for companies to integrate these tools into their workflow. I can’t wait to see the new and innovative ROS-based robots that will be developed.”

FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs that build not only science and technology skills and interests, but also self-confidence, leadership, and life lessons.

“We’re excited to utilize AWS RoboMaker, helping make it easier for students of all ages to develop, test, and deploy robotic applications,” said Don Bossi, president of FIRST. “Offerings like these make it easier for FIRST to meet its mission — to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators by engaging them in mentor-based, science-focused programs.”

AWS RoboMaker is available in U.S. East (N. Virginia), U.S. West (Oregon), EU (Ireland), and will expand to additional regions in the coming year, Amazon said.