Oracle is trialing the deployment of robots in one of its data centers.
The company has posted a number of videos of a Boston Dynamics Spot robot in Oracle livery and is reportedly part of a data center trial at its Industry Lab in Chicago, Illinois.
“Unlike most puppies, this one needs a bit of help to get energized,” Burcin Kaplanoglu, vice president of innovation for Oracle Industry Lab, said on LinkedIn last week. “It was filmed during our data center robotic trial. Goal is to perform operational tasks autonomously at Oracle Industry Lab.”
The trial started sometime in late 2022, but the precise nature of the tests hasn't been shared. In another video, the Oracle machine is using LiDAR to map and navigate its surroundings, as well as the standard camera payloads.
DCD has reached out to Oracle for more information.
Oracle Industry Labs acts as a test bed where Oracle can test and incubate new solutions alongside partners, with a focus on construction, manufacturing, communications, and energy & water. Originally started as a simulated construction site in 2018, the company opened a new three-story 30,000-square-foot (2,800 sqm) lab just outside of Chicago, Illinois in April 2022.
In another video, Kaplanoglu noted Oracle is also trialing using drones to automatically fly around buildings to detect rust.
“Skydio drones allow for flights to be done autonomously out of a pilot's line of sight (meaning the pilot does not have to see the drone) and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) vision services process the data and detect issues automatically,” he said. “This process improves safety and efficiency.”
Utah-based Novva has also deployed Boston Dynamics Spot robots. The machines are focused on the comparatively simple task of surveillance and security, rather than facility maintenance, but the company hopes to expand its use of the machines. The company has also deployed drones for security purposes and is exploring having microdrones roam data halls for inspection purposes.
Mexican operator Kio has also previously deployed two Spot machines for data center operations, while GlobalFoundries deployed Spot at a chip fab plant in Vermont for monitoring purposes.
A number of other companies are trying to increase the number of robots in the data center, but progress has been slow.
Back in 2020, Switch said that it was entering the robotics market with special Sentry Robots, in a splashy announcement that it said at the time would become a separate business line. But references to the project have been quietly removed from the Switch website, and the company has not responded to requests for comment about the status of the robots.
In China, Huawei and Alibaba are known to operate their own custom data center robots, while South Korea’s Naver was said to be planning to use robots at its Cloud Ring data center in Sejong City.
Last year Fujitsu said it planned to trial a private 5G network at a data center to enable automatic equipment inspection via robot.
NTT is running a number of robotic trials. Last year NTT Communications said it was working on a data center robot, saying it would help spot issues with product quality, and cleaning. The company had deployed a robot torso on wheels with two arms and three-fingered claw-like hands; likely a SEED-R7 series machine from Seed Solutions.
Months later, NTT Data conducted another trial of a robot in a data center – a customized robot from the Japanese company Ugo Co., Ltd, – and said it would be rolling it out to its 15 facilities in Japan as well as commercializing the offering.