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2021-03-03

IoT North March 2021 / Report & Videos

The post-Pandemic reality shows the importance of stronger integration of IoT devices in industries more than ever before. In the event of restricted human interactions, IoT-enabled robotics, in particular, has shown capabilities that can contribute to the resilience of companies in crisis events. Due to autonomous behaviour and the interactive connectivity with the physical world, robots can ensure undisrupted task implementation, intelligent control, and real-time response to unexpected events. The adoption of IoT-enabled devices cannot guarantee business continuity, though, if devices do not live up to reliability standards. Despite the growing adoption of IoT by companies, few of them consider testing the performance of IoT solutions. Therefore, the March IoT North was organised to have insights about existing solutions to develop intelligent robots and the measures that need to be undertaken to ensure the scalability of adopted IoT, the accuracy of data and workflow. The webinar had talks from Ricardo Sueiras, Principal advocate in Open Source at AWS (https://aws.github.io/), and Steve Hilton, a co-founder and President at MachNation (https://www.machnation.com/). Ricardo briefed us on how to build intelligent Robots in the Cloud using ROS (Robotics Operating System), walked through the development process, and shared case studies. Steve talked about the importance of and the main approaches to testing IoT performance to meet business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) requirements. The webinar was co-hosted, as usual, by Pitch-In Project and sponsored by Newcastle University and https://www.goto50.ai.

Ricardo Sueiras has been working with cloud technologies since 2008 and has over twenty years of experience leading emerging technology and innovation programmes. He works with enterprise executives and technology leaders to help them adopt the cloud and transform their businesses. Ricardo has been advocating the use of Robotics Operating Systems - an open-source and flexible software development kit with software, libraries, and tools, which helps users develop, test, and deploy robotics applications. ROS was designed to tackle the challenges that companies face while integrating such devices in business processes, as it requires a range of different skills, recourses and expertise, and a short time frame. Using ROS, companies can build intelligent robots that can behave in dynamic environments, collect data from the real world, process it and decide how to respond on the go. The most common scenario of using ROS is to build wheeled devices that carry objects in warehouses or factories, remove obstacles on their way, sense the environment, track and understand their spatial location. The robotics operating system comes in two versions - ROS1 and ROS2. ROS 2 is a more advanced version than ROS1 as it provides fully-functional simulation capabilities. Running a robot in simulation makes it possible to test the robot in any environment you want, focus on the software rather than the hardware, and the development of the robots' behaviours. Although the adoption of robots is not widespread, their use cases have slowly started to crop up in industries for fleet management, secure inventory or data analytics.

Steve Hilton co-founded MachNation in 2014 to provide guidelines to industrial enterprises, IT vendors and communication service providers on testing and benchmarking IoT platforms, middleware, and services. MachNation has its own test lab for testing IoT capabilities (architecture, design) and improving end-to-end solutions (IoT performance, scalability testing, simulation). Given the wider dependence of businesses on IoT in the post-Pandemic world and the high percentage of IoT device failure, performance testing is increasingly important to ensure companies’ resilience. Performance testing mainly concerns the analysis of whether data and workflow go from a platform to devices and making sure that queries are transmitted to the cloud via digital twins. The main reasons for conducting tests are to prevent over- or underspending, IoT system problems, and make sure that customers receive credible IoT services. There are 5 main ways to check IoT performance through message ingest, digital twin updates, queries, mass disconnect and reconnect, and mass FOTA or SOTA (firmware and software) updates. Message ingest is one of the best testing methods, and makes it possible to understand efficiency and latency by analysing whether the device can deliver data to the IoT cloud platform. Checking whether the device has a digital representation of itself (a digital twin) is also important because IoT apps rely on the digital twin rather than the actual device. Querying the digital twin makes it possible to see how the app performs and this improves user experience accordingly. By massively disconnecting and reconnecting devices, it is possible to simulate a disaster situation in the real world. This will help understand the number of reconnect attempts of devices, the percentage of devices that never reconnect, and the time spent reconnecting devices. FOTA or SOTA updates enable analysts to check whether devices can handle updates at scale and how they can handle multi-step errors.

News and Industry Updates

For accelerating the development and adoption of IoT, IoT North launched a marketplace that promotes IoT solutions and use cases. It is an equal opportunity marketplace connecting developers and business decisions makers seeking solutions to their problems. Learn more about the marketplace and register now for free: https://iotnorth.uk/solution-market-place

Also, Mark Weymouth shared manufacturing industry news showing promising developments in the industry, such as the announcement of 900 new jobs and hope for another 3000 roles, new projects and investments in the space industry, 9 months of manufacturing growth, the country's steady position in the automotive industry and other news. The monthly blog on LinkedIn (#MakeSenseofSensors) offers a more detailed report on industry updates.