RoboEarth rollout

In Robot Futures, I argue that robots throughout society will have the counter-intuitive advantage of massive networking: with other robots’ experiences and with cloud-based information sources dedicated to inter-robot sharing. I describe a sort of robo-google that eventually allows any robot with a gripper to quickly look up just how to open every unique door handle that a residence may offer, for instance.

This week the European Union’s RoboEarth project has gone public, thanks to more than $5M in funding across several countries. The aim of RoboEarth is, indeed, to act as an information and real-time communication facilitator for robots in shared spaces. Their website,, is well worth exploration, as it includes a page on cloud robotics that explains how they view information sharing between robots as a game-changer for each ‘bot’s individual capabilities.


Robots will be in the unique position of being nothing more than a beachhead of a strong computational and informational cloud of unknown size. Of course there may be many such commercial and nonprofit clouds; but in the end the point of view each of us will have, as a human addressing a robot on the sidewalk, will be the same: I wonder just how much this robot knows about me and my family? I wonder how well-connected it is, and how powerful its computational resources are in the Cloud?  This may be a future in which our robot-human relations are suffused with far more questions than answers.


One thought on “RoboEarth rollout

  1. Nick

    Robo Google seems very interesting. Just about to get started on your book, wondered if you had thought about the advancement of robots/AI in terms of being a great social leveller. If you assume that relative intelligence is a prerequisite for wealth/power by creating a potential source of intelligence greater than this top strata would shift them down the food chain. Assuming Moore’s law continues to hold the relative differences between top 1% and bottom 1% of human intelligence will look minuscule compared to the potentially exponential improvement in artificial intelligence and the developments that they will deliver. I haven’t seen any discussion on this aspect, most research focuses on how these technologies would disrupt our economy, not the one where they would potentially have superiority.


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