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Dapp of the Week #06: SLAM Robots by Shanghai Tech

This Dapp of the Week involves some hardware that everyone can get excited about: ROBOTS! 🤖

Below you can see the robots in action featuring the iExec user interface.

A collaboration was made between iExec and the ShanghaiTech University, specifically the ‘SHIFT’ (Shanghai Institute of Fog Computing Technology) laboratory after discussions between Haiwu He (iExec co-founder), Zhang Lei (iExec Security Director) and Zhou Mingtuo of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The specific Dapp in question is listed on the iExec Dapp Store under the name SLAM Robot. ‘SLAM’, standing for Simultaneous Localization And Mapping is the specific computational calculation executed through the iExec network and will be described later in this article.

A background on SLAM Robot labs at Shanghai Institute of Fog Computing Technology

Shanghai Institute of Fog Computing Technology (SHIFT), is a joint lab between ShanghaiTech University and Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Their research is focused on the architectures, big-data and security in fog computing, and the next-generation of communication through fog and Internet-of-Things (IoT).

The robots at SHIFT are based on ‘ROS’, a commonly used distributed operating system used in robots, which features four-wheel drive and a variety of environmental sensors such as (but not limited to): cameras, IMU measurement units, temperature/humidity sensors, microphones, laser distance surveyors, odometers. Processing power for these robot units mainly comes from a Raspberry Pi 3B, running Ubuntu OS, which is connected the network through WiFi.

‘SLAM’ Mapping Robots powered by iExec

For now, the primary function performed by the robots at ShanghaiTech is ‘SLAM’, which stands for Simultaneous Localization And Mapping. Simply put, this involves the robot using its sensors to gather details on its exact position in a space before making calculations with the gathered data to generate a detailed map of the environment.

This map can be used for future robots to navigate around the environment more efficiently and avoid obstacles. The SLAM labs imagine offering this hardware and calculation as a service, providing the final map as the end product. We can imagine multiple different use cases for such mapping, anything from automated drones to architects or landscape explorers.

The Technicalities

The above diagram represents the off-chain network that is connected to the iExec marketplace via Blockchain networks. The iExec worker service is deployed on Fog nodes in SHIFT’s site. The fog-based computing can be triggered via the iExec Dapp Store and iExec Marketplace.

Basically, as soon as the off-chain entrypoint docker application is triggered, the application firstly establishes the connections with the mobile robots, and triggers the SLAM task. The robots runs the measurement procedure and generate the maps and communicates the result back to the entrypoint docker container. The iExec service deployed on the fog node then pushes the result to iExec scheduler and triggers the Proof of Contribution procedure. User can finally download the result as soon as the verification is done.

The robots deployed in SHIFT site are multifunctional and can be deployed for lots of interesting use cases, furthermore, iExec will also make effort on Blockchain based Fog Computing, collaborate with SHIFT to push forward Blockchain based solutions for smart factory.

iExec and and the future of IoT

Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the use cases we are most excited about here at iExec. While the project is still in an exploratory phase, the future we imagine involves numerous business cases using this kind of network enabled IOT technology. For instance, imagine an architect deploying a fleet of robots that have the ability to explore places that are, for example, too wide, dangerous or inaccessible to humans. The whole community would be more than proud to see such a beautiful decentralized application powered by iExec.

Other News from iExec

The team is getting ready for Devcon4 and our own event, the iExec Summit & Party on Friday 02 Nov. 2 pm in Prague. It will involves a mix of technical talks from guest speakers, workshops and fun.(with speakers from Intel, Parity, Ubisoft and more) Afterwards, we’ll party with food, drink and good company!

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