17 July 2014

An OS for SDN meeting Cloud Robotics

They say that innovation, and the development of new industries, is about positioning research on the confluence of distinct streams of emerging technology. Research progress at the intersection of fields is more likely to happen when cross-disciplinary scenarios are encouraged: strategies would include importing ideas from diverse communities and creating an environment enabling to deep cross-collaboration.

I believe that promising opportunities are likely to happen around the intersection of Software Define Networks, Network Function Virtualization - and - Cloud Robotics.

We’re witnessing that the number of smart devices, terminals, machine, things connected to the network is growing day by day. For every cell phone today we have already a few sensors and by the end of this decade there will be more than hundred sensors per each cell phone; for every car we have tenths of microprocessors, the average middle-class household has about 40 microprocessors. The number of connected sensing-computing-actuating objects is increasing tremendously.  This is change of paradigm, as in the future the distinction between the “network” and “what connects to it”, will disappear, becoming these smart devices, terminals, machine, things… like nodes. And this will the case also for Robots.

Let’s go beyond the concept of SDN as the evolution of “networking”, let’s open new perspectives. A Robot, in principle, can be seen as a Software Define – node, capable of providing ICT services and attached to the network. What services ? Imagine the adoption of Robots in agricultural processes, or a wider introduction of smarter Robots in industry (even in hazardous environments improving safety for emergency services, in mining activities, etc) or the use of Robots to support us in our day life activities: a self-driving car is just an example, or the evolution of Jibo or next intelligent personal assistant (like Siri) to evolve to become an intelligent personal Robot.

Devices, machines, smart things or robots will become like new “tools” (enabled by Softwarization) which we’ll have at disposal to develop the Digital Society and the Digital Economy. So, if SDN is seen today as a sort of “network OS”, the 5G OS will be the big technical challenge of the future:  a sort of decentralized OS bringing to radio-fixed convergence beyond the last mile, supporting mobility, embedding security – by design – and spanning from the all Terminals, to the Network to the Cloud.  A key requirement of 5G OS will be allowing QoS with very limited values of “latency” (e.g. in the order of 1-2 ms) for real-time sensing and actuations, but also being developed Open Source to boost innovation!