The European Union is building an Internet for robots, and a robot version of Wikipedia — called RoboEarth – in order to help robots collectively operate and learn in the unstructured environments outside of the lab.
The project, which first began in late 2009, is being built by the Seventh Framework Programme — the E.U.’s research arm.
The first phase of RoboEarth, Rapyuta, is designed to enable robots to offload some of their computing power into the cloud, thus making the robots cheaper and lighter.
The project is named for the Japanese anime film, Tenku no Shior Rapyuta, which means “Castle in the Sky” in English. Project lead Mohanarajah Gajamohan wrote in February that “Rapyuta is the castle in the sky inhabited by robots.”
The first public release of Rapyuta was rolled out in February.
The project’s creators have of course dismissed jests and concerns that the project could turn into Skynet, the homicidal self-aware computer network from James Cameron’s Terminator movies.
Common everyday tasks humans take for granted, however, need to be learned by robots.
Their vision is that RoboEarth would be more like a Wikipedia for robots, which would help the robots adapt more quickly to new environments and tasks by downloading information they need from the cloud.
“While the future of Cloud Robotics remains uncertain, my RoboEarth colleagues and I agree that human environments are too nuanced and complicated to be summarized within a limited set of specifications,” said robotics researcher Markus Waibel in January.
Contributions to the site, which would act as a knowledge base for the robots, will be made by both robots and human beings.
British singer Peter Gabriel recently unveiled his effort to enable higher cognitive functioning animals, such as dolphins, to connect to the Internet.