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Android robots... Is this becoming the new norm?

Why are companies moving robots over to android?

Robots that run Android OS

With the robotics industry developing every day the technology is constantly changing. Companies are finding better ways to make, use, and program their robots but there seems to be one trend in particular that is starting to stick. Using Android as the operating system for robots is becoming increasingly common with Pepper moving over to Android last May and other leading social robots including Sanbot and Zenbo also running Android as the primary operating system.

But why is this happening? 

Security

Android currently runs on over 2 billion devices and has been in development for over 11 years. In this time the security has been constantly improving. With the power of Google's Android, robots are becoming more and more secure. With Android being maintained by Google any future security beaches in the operating system will be fixed and robots will be able to get updated security just by updating the version of Android. On top of this Android uses security-enhanced Linux, verified boot to guarantee the integrity of the device and has multiple cryptographic APIs for use by applications.

Code Sharing

With android starting to become a popular robotics development platform the ability to share code between platforms is expanding. This means that any company that develops an application on a robot running Android should be able to port the software to a different platform without huge redevelopment costs whereas previously this has not been possible. This increases the ability to get better applications developed faster, get new robotics platforms running quicker and reducing the overall cost for companies implementing this kind of technology.

Shorter learning curve

With multiple different robot platforms all developing their own operating systems, the learning curve to develop on a specific robot can be steep, running android, this is no longer a problem. Developers are already accustomed to how android works and have experience writing applications and interfaces for digestion on Tablets and Phones, they only need to learn the robot specific elements such as motor control and navigation which are often written as android library’s provided by the manufacturer.

Bigger pool of development talent

With android having been a popular, mainstream operating system for the last 8 years there are over 1.7 million developers in the UK alone. Social robotics and Artificial intelligence are nascent fields where there is a significantly smaller pool of developers available. Moving robotics platforms over to android allows the ability to get more, higher skilled developers with relevant experience to help expand the ability of our social robots.

Is robots running android a good thing?

With the increased security, ability to share code and applications more easily and more available developers it seems like companies are choosing to move their robots onto the android platform for some very good reasons. As the robotics industry develops further this may change again but for now Android is looking like the way forward.