Tend claims ‘world’s first’ hardware-agnostic cloud platform for industrial robots

A startup company in the US, founded by a group of computer and artificial intelligence experts, claims to have launched the world’s first cloud robotics platform which can be made to work with any industrial robot or device. 

Tend.ai says its cloud environment – which is being offered as an online software-as-a-service, on a monthly subscription basis – can connect and work with any brand of robot and can also hook up such things as smartphones and other devices, such as webcams.

This means that any brand of robots can be made to do any number and variety of tasks – the data for which is stored in the cloud – without having to be tended to by a human. The group have demonstrated the system by programming the robots to perform 3D printing tasks.

In exclusive comments to Robotics and Automation News, Mark Silliman, CEO, says the company has been in “stealth mode” for some time (possibly because of paranoia about security) and this information is only being released now.

Silliman says: “Tend.ai makes cloud robotics for machine tending a reality. It’s compatible with both Universal Robots and Rethink robots, as well as many more soon.” 

Chillin… the three founders of Tend.ai – from left: James Gentes, Mark Silliman, and Robert Kieffer

Chillin… the three founders of Tend.ai – from left: James Gentes, Mark Silliman, and Robert Kieffer

Silliman says the Tend.ai platform is “fully hardware agnostic”, meaning “it can use any robots, webcams, sensors”.

He adds: “Tend.ai uses artificial intelligence powered by cloud computing to read machines’ displays and press machines’ buttons just like a human would. No modification or networking of machines is required.

“The demo is the world’s first fully automated 3D printing solution thanks to collaborative robotics and Tend.ai’s software.

“You can train, control, and monitor any robot from any device – for example, your mobile phone.

“Thanks to cloud computing, standard webcams (costing about $100) can be used for the vision systems.”

Silliman is one of three founders of Tend.ai. Some might refer to all three as alpha geeks, having inhaled large amounts of computer knowledge in their previous jobs as software engineers at famous geekdoms such as Google, Symantec and others.

This new cloud that the three high-skilled engineers have produced will probably have everyone in the robotics and automation industry buzzing.

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