In the future, robots might be a bit more affordable thanks to Rapyuta – a cloud-based robotic “brain” that our metallic friends can access via the Internet. Rapyuta is part of the Robo Earth project thought up by European scientists from five different research labs in 2011. They recently got one step closer to their goal as they activated the first parts of the online database.
Think of Rapyuta as a place where the robots can get information on the things, situations, places, and everything else they encounter. It provides them a standardized view of our world, and if robots do end up being common, they can consult Rapyuta whenever they come across something new. The database can also instruct them on the appropriate way to deal with new situations and can even do complicated computations for them. Do you have a robot that needs to understand human speech or perform chores around the house such as folding laundry or serving food? No problem. Rapyuta can crunch data for them and instruct them on what to do.
According to Robo Earth program manager Dr. Heico Sandee: “On-board computation reduces mobility and increases cost.” Those two issues are addressed by using a cloud-based database. Considering internet speeds are getting faster and faster, the method does sound like a viable solution. Robots will presumably be able to upload their own data, too – let’s just hope Rapyuta doesn’t gain sentience and turn into a real-life version of Skynet. Rapyuta’s first users will probably be technologies we already have today, including drones and self-driving cars.
The database was (very aptly) named after the Hayao Miyazaki animated film Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta (or Laputa: Castle in the Sky, which is in turn named after the flying island in Gulliver’s Travels), in which a floating castles serves as home to robots.