I have the pleasure of attending the international summit, Innorobo, this week in Lyon, France.  Learning about the latest innovations and trends in robotics convinces me that the OMAP platform brings the right advantages to the world of robotics, such as: ultra-high performance at ultra-low power; acceleration for vision-based navigation and recognition; natural user interface capabilities such as gesture and speech recognition; and, advanced security. Each of these elements came into play in nearly all of Innorobo’s themes, and made me more excited than ever before about the role OMAP processors will play as the robotics market advances. 

Above: Pictures I captured from the Innorobo floor.

One important Innorobo theme is the robotics industry’s continued focus on solving real world problems, as opposed to advancing technology for technology’s sake.  The message seems to be similar to that of the RoboBusiness Leadership Summit I attended in  November – look carefully at the problem from a holistic point of view and let that drive the required technology development. 

Numerous applications can use robotics to solve real world problems. Some examples include medicine and laundry transport in hospitals to free up nurses to focus on patient care; making farm equipment more autonomous improving output to feed our ever-growing population; and, reducing the cost of warehouse operations by delivering the shelves to the person shipping material instead of the other way around.  The key is to provide the right tools to the innovative companies looking at market needs in a practical manner and with the intent of solving the problem. 

Another focus at Innorobo is the improvement of human-robot interaction. A French company, Gostai, said clearly robots of the future need to work around humans… not the other way around. They even suggested we call them “smart machines” to avoid evoking the unpredictable reaction to the term “robots”.  Gostai’s robot platform, Jazz, is targeted at remote presence – giving the ability for a robot to move, see, hear and talk in place of a human.  Applications they mentioned included teleworking, surveillance, receptionists, and health care. 

Over the course of the event, the connection of robotics to mobile computing was also made several times.  Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot, tied robots to mobile computing advances – he sees tablets as a key interface to robots as they are “pre-integrated with needed sensors and almost everyone has one…” One example he gave was doctors using tablets today to view medical records and imaging, and to communicate with remote patients via video chat. In these instances, robots can extend a doctor’s capabilities to include further observation and testing. 

Several people spoke of robotics being the next step in mobile communication adding yet another dimension.  The broad adoption of smartphones seems to revolve around our strong desire to communicate on our own terms-- voice calls, email, texting, instant messaging, location sharing, tweeting, or posting to Facebook. Robots can  give us yet another opportunity as they allow us to communicate through a remote physical proxy, leading to more information exchanged and a deeper connection for both parties.  True 3D, if you will… 

All of this rings true with a recent announcement our TI team made to bring the OMAP platform to new spaces, including robotics. The vision for robotics is multi-faceted and exciting, and is practically tailor-made to leverage the OMAP platform’s smart multicore architecture and well-established ecosystem of complementary technologies. I am excited for what OMAP processors will bring to robots of the future!