During SLAMTEC's participation in this counter-epidemic support initiative, EMQX Cloud helped us quickly deploy our robots to our cloud platform after we arrived at the mobile cabin hospital. Throughout the robots' high-intensity service, EMQX Cloud provided a stable and reliable connection for data interactions, allowing our robots to complete delivery tasks brilliantly and contribute to the counter-epidemic work.
—— Jueshen Huang, CTO of SLAMTEC Co., Ltd
Founded in 2013, SLAMTEC’s core R&D team is experienced in the development and application of autonomous robot localization and navigation solutions as well as core sensing technologies. Its cloud-hosted RoboCloud platform can remotely configure, control, and collect data from any of its robot models. Through rapid technology development and continuous product updates, SLAMTEC has pioneered autonomous navigation in the services robot industry. SLAMTEC does business in more than 20 countries and areas, including Asia, Europe, and North America. Over 2000 enterprise users and 100000 personal users deploy SLAMTEC robots in their restaurants, hotels, retail outlets, banks, hospitals, airports and more.
As a local robotics company in Shanghai, SLAMTEC recently responded to an urgent request to support COVID-19 counter-epidemic work. The special demands of the mobile hospital environment pressured them to build a rapid yet reliable solution.
Since April, the COVID-19 epidemic in Shanghai has been severe, with a wide range of spread and an increasing number of infections. Under the direction of Shanghai’s epidemic prevention and control departments, Shanghai districts constructed mobile cabin hospitals and the Shanghai Municipal Economic and Information Technology Commission (SMEITC) quickly organized internal forces to support front line workers with advanced technology.
Cross-infection between patients and medical care providers was a serious risk, so SLAMTEC's robots were deployed to provide important services like food delivery and garbage collection since they could autonomously map and navigate the site environment without requiring human contact. SLAMTEC deployed 150 H2 and F3 intelligent delivery robots to mobile hospitals in the two regions of Lingang and Qingpu.
However, due to the special situation created by the epidemic, SLAMTEC had to overcome many technical difficulties during deployment and operation of its robots.
- Due to the rapid development of the epidemic, the construction and operation of mobile cabin hospitals had to be completed as quickly as possible. With limited IT facilities on site, it was necessary to quickly deploy a set of RoboCloud platform services and implement interfacing and commissioning with the robots in a short period of time.
- The largest area of the mobile cabin hospitals posed a challenge for the robots to map, with many long, straight corridors without obvious features. This required a large amount of robot sensing data to be sent to the RoboCloud platform in order to quickly realize large scene building.
- Environment navigation was complex, with many patients in the mobile cabin hospital and multiple robots interacting in real-time to achieve automatic obstacle avoidance, which required low-latency data processing.
For IoT device access with high concurrency, high throughput, and low latency, EMQX Cloud provides a professional public cloud data access service for MQTT and other IoT protocols. It provides high availability operation and maintenance for different industries, with 99.99% uptime, helping customers reliably connect various types of IoT devices in the cloud.
Using 5G networking and EMQX Cloud, SLAMTEC rapidly deployed an IoT network to support interactions between hospital robots and its RoboCloud platform. The system coped perfectly with the various stresses encountered in the counter-epidemic environment of the mobile cabin hospitals.
- Quick cloud platform integration: EMQX Cloud’s fully managed MQTT data access service enabled each new device to connect with the RoboCloud platform in minutes, which greatly shortened the time to deploy and debug the system and enabled the robots to enter the working state quickly;
- High throughput, low latency interactions: SLAMTEC's robots adopt a map optimization method, which can build a map for very large scenes up to 500m x 500m. In the process of map building, robots report massive amounts of real-time data, such as radar, position, and mileage, to EMQX Cloud through MQTT. The SQL-based rules engine built into EMQX Cloud connects to RoboCloud backend application services and storage services, ensuring high-quality data routing between the robots and RoboCloud and reducing the complexity of processing large amounts of data;
- Multi-robot collaboration: Fast robot movement requires real-time route planning. EMQX Cloud's low latency message routing and data distribution capability connected robots and the RoboCloud dispatching center at millisecond speeds, enabling efficient multi-robot collaboration and autonomous obstacle avoidance.
- Stable instructions issuance: If a patient misses picking up a meal, they can call a robot to serve them through a "call for meal preparation" function in the hospital’s mobile application. The instructions given by medical staff or patients to the robot in the mobile application need to be transmitted from the application to EMQX Cloud and then sent to the robot. The entire business channel needs to ensure that the orders are accurately delivered and that messages are not lost or duplicated due to network or software problems during the delivery process. With MQTT’squality of service (QoS) capabilities provided by EMQX Cloud, the instructions can be guaranteed to reach the robot only once without being lost, creating a perfect user experience.
- High availability: The special nature of the mobile cabin hospital service requires the robots to provide services 24x7 without interruption. EMQX Cloud provides 24x7 operation and maintenance support to ensure stable data transmission under high-intensity work and integration with RoboCloud so that robots can collaborate with the platform without worries.
During the pre-deployment phase, thanks to the rapid integration services provided by EMQX Cloud, work that normally took at least 15 working days was completed in just 6 days, and the robots were quickly and smoothly commissioned and integrated with the platform.
During the operational phase, SLAMTEC's delivery robots were able to deliver about 120 meals per hour with a 99% success rate. Combined with fully automated meal delivery logic in RoboCloud, they could complete full cabin meal delivery within 30 minutes. By placing garbage cans on top of the F3 robot’s platform and "patrolling" to collect patients' household garbage, the robots saved the time and physical strength of medical staff and allowed them to do more valuable tasks.
In addition to meal delivery and garbage collection, SLAMTEC's delivery robots have an 8-inch ultra-clear screen embedded in their bodies. Medical staff can push customized content to the screens through EMQX Cloud to broadcast educational videos or send reminders to patients. The intelligent robots follow a set route that ensures this content reaches all corners of the cabin.
As of June, SLAMTEC's robots have been deployed and operated in Lingang and Qingpu mobile cabin hospitals for 2 months. The division of labor between SLAMTEC’s H2 and F3 robots has brought out the best of contactless service and has won the unanimous praise of the medical staff on site. EMQX Cloud will continue to provide efficient, safe, and stable data infrastructure services to help SLAMTEC play a bigger role in the counter-epidemic initiative.