How IBM are building robots that could help in data centres

We at Data Centre Shop are proud of the impressive variety of data centre products that we offer. Furthermore, this variety is likely to increasingly grow – perhaps even to the extent that we start selling robots. Yes, that’s right – robots that could carry out both simple and complex data centre work. We suggest this because… the historically hugely influential technology corporation IBM is currently busy using Microsoft’s Kinect technology to build robots that could be put to many different purposes, including – yes – data centre work.

An exciting ambition revealed by IBM
This certainly isn’t the first time that IBM have built robots intended for use in data centres. Indeed, the company has already created a handful of them. These robots navigate data centres by using the two-foot by two-foot grids typically used in these buildings, monitor temperature and use RFID to keep tabs on machines; however, the new robots that IBM are developing will likely be capable of more complicated tasks than this.

The company has revealed that it intends these robots to use the Xbox motion detection system Kinect to navigate, with John Lenchner, researcher at the IBM TJ Watson Research Center, having insisted that, though “With grids, it’s very easy to do a visual SLAM (simultaneous localisation and mapping) … we want to have a robot that can navigate an office environment”.

The future of the development of data centre robots
Lenchner added: “Kinect builds what is called a 3D point cloud. You want, as you’re moving around, to piece together the 3D cloud set of everything you see into one coherent 3D model”, before revealing: “We want to make that into something practical.”

It could be some time before such data centre robots are on sale, however. This is for several reasons, including not only that IBM’s project is very much in its infancy, but also that the company is using a robotic base model that has been designed by another organisation and so IBM might struggle to be able to sell it. Nonetheless, the project could influence other companies’ developments of robots that could work in data centres and become commercially available.

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