I was reading this morning the IEEE Spectrum Magazine and I found a really interesting article. I really like being subscribed to this magazine because it offers me a very broad spectrum of news and topics with which to fullfill my geekyness once in a while.

We all know – and I have blogged about them often here in Soft Handover – that robotics is one of the hottest research areas in science. I am pretty sure that all of you has seen at least once Honda’s Asymo, either dancing, running or falling down the stairs. There is also a lot of research in the so-called tele-presence robots, which always remind me of the movie Surrogates.

One of the main challenges from robotics is that these humanoids require great computational capabilites to be able to process – in real time – images, faces, voice, sounds, obstacles. For example, some of this robots learn as they move and generate a virtual map of the area to be able to move around. Also, by very complex image processing algorithms or sensor controlling, they can determine the position of objec, which allows them to play soccer or be able to pour a beer.

All these processing requirements make it necessary to have a very powerful – and high energy consuming – processor on board. These implies the necessity to carry huge and heay batteries as well.

Experts in the matter, though, have started to claim that combining the benefits of cloud computing with robotics would be highly beneficial. By offloading heavy computational tasks, such as image processing, speech recongition, etc, one could be able to design better robots with longer battery life.

Also, the authors of the article compare this hypothetical situation with the movie The Matrix – a masterpiece like no other -, quoting the scene when Trinity learns how to pilot a helicopter by having a program downloaded on her brain. – I personally prefer the scene when Neo claim “Now I know Kung Fu”, after getting a program downloaded -.

Researhers argue that a global robotics data-base could be created in such a way that, whenever a robot faced a task that it does not know how to do, a set of instructions could be downloaded from this data-base. In other words, a robot could learn Kung-Fu from the cloud.

Find more details at the IEEE Spectrum Magazine article.