Amazon Web Services Reveals RoboMaker Cloud-Based Robotics Platform

By Amit Chowdhry ● November 27, 2018

This week is Amazon Web Services’ re:Invent event in Las Vegas and one of the biggest announcements was AWS RoboMaker. RoboMaker taps into the open-source Robot Operating System (ROS) as a way for developers to build robotics applications using cloud services with connectivity to AWS services such as machine learning and analytics in order for a robot to stream data, communication, learn, and navigate.

“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 AWS RoboMaker general manager Roger Barga. “AWS RoboMaker provides pre-built 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.”

AWS RoboMaker provides an AWS Cloud9-based robotics integrated development environment, which facilitates application development and robotics simulation for accelerating application testing. And AWS RoboMaker’s robotics simulation also allows users to quickly set up large-scale and parallel simulations with pre-built worlds like retail stores, racing tracks, and indoor rooms. This enables developers to quickly test their applications on-demand and run multiple simulations in parallel.

The AWS RoboMaker fleet management integrates with AWS Greengrass and has support for over-the-air (OTA) deployments of robotics applications via the development environment onto the robot. Cloud extensions available for ROS include Amazon Amazon Kinesis Video Streams ingestion, Amazon Lex speech recognition, Amazon Polly speech generation, Amazon CloudWatch logging and monitoring, and Amazon Rekognition image and video analysis.

“We regularly evaluate how we can use new technology to bring our customers a better experience,” added Amazon VP and Distinguished Engineer of Robotics Brad Porter. “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. We believe AWS RoboMaker will be impactful to advanced robotics operations across the world by greatly decreasing cost and time to production.”

Some of the AWS customers that are using AWS RoboMaker include NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), Stanley Black & Decker, Robot Care System, and Apex.AI. Stanley Black & Decker VP of SW Engineering and Robotics Hamid Montazeri said that the industrial tools company is planning to use autonomous ground vehicles and drones to make the construction industry more productive while helping reduce construction rework costs. Using AWS RoboMaker, the company is able to test robotics related software applications in a cloud environment and rapidly generate synthetic imaging data to train 3D site model creation algorithms. And Montazeri pointed out that AWS RoboMaker also provides an ideal fleet management solution for use on ground vehicles and drones.

As a contribution to the open source community, AWS made both the source code and documentation of the AWS RoboMaker cloud extensions for ROS publicly available publicly available under the Apache Software License 2.0. And AWS is a member of the ROS2 Technical Steering Committee. For the latest version of ROS (known as ROS2), AWS contributed to real-time messaging, security, and authentication.

Currently, AWS RoboMaker is available in US East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon), EU (Ireland). And it will be expanded to additional regions in the coming year.