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Robot Garden - A robotics training grounds


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Why build a robot garden?

With the introduction of AI-controlled robots, we are on the cusp of a revolution - accelerating to an world in which robots to do truly useful work. But like a human, a robot needs to practice to gain the skills necessary for the task at hand.

The Robot Garden is a training ground for robots to learn how to excel at unique industrial tasks. 


To make the training efficient and effective, the environment needs to be realistic and have enough variation to capture a variety of situations. This variety is necessary to build AI models to robust enough to deploy in live environments.

Getting realistic training data is not straightforward. We need:

  • Authentic industrial equipment to train on
  • Varied weather conditions
  • Equipment failures
  • Opportunity to continuously run tests

What is a robot garden?

Cognite joined forces with Aker Solutions, TESS, and Createc to build an innovative testing and training facility for inspection robots, called Robot Garden. The robot garden is meant to be an open testing arena for our customers and partners. Our first robot garden is located at Fornebu, Oslo, close to the Cognite Oslo office.

robot garden

In it, we have installed an array of industrial equipment brought in from actual sites around the world to ensure that the training is as realistic as possible.

On an actual site, failure data is difficult to come by. If everything is running as normal, we don’t have any failures to observe and we get no training data for the robots. Imagine trying to spot a leak if you have never seen a leak before.

TESS masterfully implemented controllable failures in some of the equipment in the garden so that we can get a wealth of input data to train on. Failures include leaks, spills, overheating, vibration, noise, and more.

In a similar way, getting enough training on a live industrial site can also be difficult to achieve. Before the robots are trained, they cannot do actual work and will often be in the way of normal operations. This is not wanted on a production site, but in our robot garden we can train as much as we want without disturbing anyone.

The opportunity for the industry

Smart robots can do the dull, dirty, and dangerous work on industrial sites, allowing human operators to:

  • Work from a safe location, like a control room, instead of being in the field (might even work from home in some cases)
  • Be more efficient, maybe supervising more than one robot at a time
  • Teach domain knowledge from human master operators to robots
  • Increase frequency of operator rounds and inspections (the robot will not mind if you ask it to go check something every five minutes all day long, whereas you might hesitate to ask a human to do the same thing)

The role of Cognite Data Fusion®

While the robots can train their skills in the robot garden, information of what to check and when to check it, is coming from other sources. The same goes for many other types of required information, like the maximum pressure of tanks or unwanted upward trending of temperature in a boiler.

Cognite Data Fusion® consolidates and contextualizes all this information to make it available and understandable to the robots (just like it does for humans). In a way, you could say that Cognite Data Fusion® is the cognitive brain of the robot. 

In addition, all the data captured by the robots flows back to Cognite Data Fusion® for evaluation by AI algorithms or human exports. The results of these evaluations can lead to new tasks for the robots, again very much like the human brain, closing the OODA loop (Observer, Orient, Decide, Act).

Adding this powerful brain to well-trained motor skills from the garden gives us an effective system to advance the use of robots in industry and deploy them into more valuable ways. 

Generative AI now allows the robots to understand anything that is spoken or written and communicate with operators in speed-to-speech or writing language commands. This removes the need for specialized robot operators, and allows anyone that can express what they want to have the robot do that task.

We welcome visitors!

The robot garden is in operation every day and anyone visiting can come by and see the robotics in action. We also invite our partners and customers to come and train their robots or AI algorithms in the facility with us! Contact us and get started!

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