PARTNER INTERVIEW: CloudMinds Technology CEO Bill Huang (pictured) talked to Mobile World Live (MWL) about the company’s strategy for powering service robots for business customers via a cloud platform using its secure infrastructure.

MWL: Can you give an update on your progress since being set up three years ago, as well as your outlook for 2019?
CloudMinds is a pioneer, developer and operator of cloud artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic solutions. The company makes robots smarter by providing the enabling secure virtual backbone network coupled with a real-time, multi-modal human-in-the-loop cloud platform to connect robots to cloud AI.

The company has R&D facilities and operations in Santa Clara, California, Beijing and Tokyo.

From 2015 to 2017, CloudMinds built up a secure infrastructure to run cloud robots, including the cloud brain, network nerve system and a robot control unit. In 2018 we started to operate cloud robots for business customers, including Cloud Pepper, Cloud Patrol and some smart devices with cloud intelligence. This year CloudMinds will upgrade its cloud brain Human Augmented Robotics Intelligence with eXtreme Reality (HARIX) and release the next-generation service robot. These two core building blocks will help break the bottleneck in commercially deploying humanoid service robots.

How will cloud robots be the killer app for 5G?
5G networks will provide much higher speeds and also require new kinds of applications to fully leverage their capabilities. Cloud robotics is a kind of robots whose ‘brains’ are in the cloud, with a global, high-speed backbone network as the nerve system. In the near future, all intelligent robots will be cloud robotics.

With today’s LTE mobile networks, we can send multiple megabits per second of signals many thousands of kilometres away with less than 100-millisecond delay. That is sufficient for human level perception and mechanical control. With the coming 5G mobile standard in the making, we can achieve 100-times better performance and scale.

It is clear we can use the mobile communication network as the nerve system for connecting the cloud brain with the robotic bodies. In other words, cloud robots have the potential to be the killer application for 5G networks.

Because of the evolution networks, the performance of a cloud-connected robot would have been a problem five years ago, but it is not today. In fact, 5G and future generation networks will be operating at speeds beyond what humans can handle, so one could think of these future network buildouts as serving not just humans, but rather the machines in our midst.

What specific services are you focused on now and who is your target market?
We focus on service robots for business customers, with models designed for monitoring, cleaning, delivery and so on.

Our cloud robots can be used in retail as sales promotion staff or receptionists; in hospitality for concierge services; healthcare for taking care of the elderly; as well as in entertainment, advertising and banking in a range of roles.

Which sectors do you see benefitting the most from your services?
In the first wave, governments, telecoms operator and real estate companies will benefit the most from our cloud intelligence solutions, covering robots and smart devices. We have very good reference cases in US and China for cloud robots.

How can cloud robotics help operators develop new business models?
Operators have strong resources such as bandwidth, network quality-of-service, huge data sets and a broad distribution channel. A cloud robotics company like CloudMinds will bring operators AI capabilities and vertical robot solutions, which will enable them to create a lot of new business models.

What did you announce at MWC19 Barcelona?
We announced our next-generation cloud robot, the XR-1, which is the first humanoid cloud robot with vision-guided precision and compliant grasping and manipulation capabilities.

The robot is powered by two ground-breaking technologies. The Smart Compliant Actuator (SCA) is a highly integrated and standardised smart joint capable of mass production. It is the core building block for all future service robots capable of performing human-like joint movements cost effectively. The HARIX is an AI powered and constantly evolving cloud brain for operating a cloud robot over a secured mobile network connection. It seamlessly combines AI and human augmentation for robot operation. It also integrates multimedia data streaming and massive multiplayer online gaming technologies for operating millions of cloud robots with the capabilities of performing many different service roles.

The unique combination of the technologies breaks the bottleneck of commercially deploying various service cloud robots, including humanoids demanding 5G functions, which eventually will reach the same scale as smartphones.