About this Research Topic
Robots and AI represent the future of infrastructure inspection, repair, and maintenance (IMR). To enable their full potential, we need digital twins of the robots and their operating environments, which can be extremely dynamic and harsh, to facilitate a rapid and iterative process of robot design, development, and test for industrial deployment and standardization. These digital versions of robots and the environments need to be connected and interact seamlessly with their physical twin counterparts through connective digital tissue for realistic simulation, emulation, and goal-oriented design changes. 5G, will be critical for live streaming vast amounts of data and linking the digital and physical twins, as well as robot developers, users, and operators. Cloud-based infrastructure will not only allow advanced AI algorithms to be deployed but also lead to the use of shared synthetic environments to help facilitate the ideation and design of novel robot systems and their digital twins.
Realizing the full potential and a rapid design and development of robotic inspection systems will require the seamless integration with digital twins of both the environments being inspected and the robots themselves. Significant research has been undertaken in the fundamental components of this overall system, but there are significant challenges in integrating these in a way that is open, robust, and cost-effective. Physical robots designed will need to be tested, ideally in real operating environments, generating a large amount of data from the actuators and perceptual sensors of the robots and their algorithms, e.g., SLAM. This data needs to be communicated to the digital world, synthesizing digital twins of both the robots and the environments for cost-effective testing at the development state and safe interaction at the deployment stage. The bandwidth requirements of this (potentially to allow real-time updates) mean that 5G communications will be required. They will also be required to reduce latency in any Human-Robot-Interactions (HRI) with the platforms. The processing requirements of the digital world mean that they are likely to have to be hosted in the cloud. This will also enable global interactions and potentially wider collaborations.
This collection is seeking submissions on topics including, but not limited to, the following:
• Digital twins for mobile robots
• Remote operation, interaction, and telepresence of robots through digital twins
• Digital tissue for digital/physical robot interfacing, such as 5G enabled robots or cloud-based systems
• Safe and cost-effective design and testing of robotic systems using digital twins
Dr. Simon Watson is a director of a private company, ICE-9 Ltd, which develops mobile robots for inspection, maintenance, and repair. All other Topic Editors have no competing interest with the theme of this Research Topic.
Keywords: Digital Twin, Mobile Robot, Autonomous Robot, IMR
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