AWS RoboMaker simplifies the developing, testing, and deploying of robotics applications, and allows developers to build intelligent robots on the cloud

AWS re:Invent kicked off this week, Amazon’s annual festival of cloud where it showcases its latest cloud products, developments and roadmaps.

More of machine learning?

It’s safe to say that last year’s re:Invent was all about machine learning, with Amazon releasing a raft of AI-equipped services.

A series of announcements in the build-up to this year’s event revealed many of these applications, including text-to-speech service Polly, and translation services Amazon Translate and Amazon Transcribe, were to gain improved capabilities.

But as expected, Amazon has used day one of re:Invent to make it absolutely clear that this year’s announcements won’t be reduced to mere fine-tuning and updates, announcing a new robotics service that is certain to make waves within the cloud community.

Robotics goes centre-stage

In a nutshell, Amazon is not wasting any time pitting its cloud behemoth as the go-to provider for those looking to deploy robotics applications and build the next generation of intelligent robots.

The new service RoboMaker provides an AWS Cloud9-based robotics development environment for application and robot development, and enables robots to connect to the cloud with millisecond latency.

Amazon has continued the increasingly controversial practice of building its service off of existing open source software. RoboMaker extends Robot Operating System (ROS) – the most widely used open source robotics software framework.

RoboMaker provides ROS with connectivity to AWS machine learning, monitoring, and analytics services, enabling a robot to ‘stream data, navigate, communicate, comprehend, and learn’.

Open source

AWS generates significant revenue from selling open source technologies like Redis. Redis infamously added a Commons Clause to some of its modules to take a stance against cloud providers.

But there is no doubt that by extending AWS Kinesis Video Streams ingestion, Rekognition image and video analysis, Lex speech recognition, Polly speech generation, and Cloudwatch monitoring to ROS, RoboMaker will significantly speed-up and augment the often cumbersome process of developing and testing robotics applications.

“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.

For his part, Brian Gerkey, CEO of Open Robotics welcomed the news, saying RoboMaker was a positive development for ROS and robotics in general. Open Robotics works with industry, academia, and government to create and support open source software for the global robotics industry.

“I can’t wait to see the new and innovative ROS-based robots that will be developed,” he said.

“AWS’s support for our products, including ROS2, will significantly advance our goal of making open platforms the basis for all robotics applications.”

It was announced that NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Stanley Black and Decker are already using RoboMaker to build space rovers and drones for industrial inspection, respectively.

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

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