Offloading SLAM for Indoor Mobile Robots with Edge-Fog-Cloud Computing
Indoor mobile robots are widely used in industrial environments such as large logistic warehouses. They are often in charge of collecting or sorting products. For such robots, computation-intensive operations account for a significant percentage of the total energy consumption and consequently affect battery life. Besides, in order to keep both the power consumption and hardware complexity low, simple micro-controllers or single-board computers are used as onboard local control units. This limits the computational capabilities of robots and consequently their performance. Offloading heavy computation to Cloud servers has been a widely used approach to solve this problem for cases where large amounts of sensor data such as real-time video feeds need to be analyzed. More recently, Fog and Edge computing are being leveraged for offloading tasks such as image processing and complex navigation algorithms involving non-linear mathematical operations. In this paper, we present a system architecture for offloading computationally expensive localization and mapping tasks to smart Edge gateways which use Fog services. We show how Edge computing brings computational capabilities of the Cloud to the robot environment without compromising operational reliability due to connection issues. Furthermore, we analyze the power consumption of a prototype robot vehicle in different modes and show how battery life can be significantly improved by moving the processing of data to the Edge layer.