Disclaimer: I work for EMC India CoE and the robot is result of annual innovation showcase conducted by EMC globally. The robot in particular is incubated by EMC India CoE. The robot is created by the team - Vivek, Arun, Ravi and Maddy with guidance from EMC India Technical leadership.
EMC 's DATA CENTER ROBOT
Data Center energy efficiency & sustainability is getting industry wide attention and becoming an imperative. EMC takes sustainability very seriously. Every year, the innovation showcase invites new ideas for sustainability at EMC. The robot is an offspring of Innovation showcase.
This idea is to build a low cost platform to monitor environmental parameters in a data center. We initially planned to take an arduino with DS18B20 temp sensors around & build a temperature map of the data center. But we need to take care of the indoor location information as well with this method. That looked tedious & error prone. It is a good thermal detector but not good to build a thermal map. So we brainstormed with our team and some one joked about putting it on a Roomba & driving it around. The idea looked frugal because either you can put hundreds of sensors in your data center or take few sensors & walk around. Both are different in technical perspective but the later approach which is very low cost & good enough for quick data center cooling fixes.
We brainstormed a bit on individual systems to build such a robot. We identified off the shelf components for each sub-system. We selected iRobot create for driving platform, arduino for sensor interfacing, DS18B20 temp sensors, Webcam for remote navigation and a netbook for Wifi connectivity.
Robot BoM :
- Windows Netbook
- USB Webcam
- iRobot create with Advanced Battery Pack
- Arduino UNO
- DS18B20 Sensors
- PVC pipe
- Pipe Holder fixed to iRobot base
- iRobot control cable + serial - USB convertor
Total cost : 200$ (without laptop)
A typical data center should run anywhere between 18.C to 27.C as per ASHRAE (revised frequently & changed now). The lower the temperature (below recommended), higher (above recommended) will be the energy consumption and higher the temperature there will be a problem of equipment availability. Running the data center at optimum temperature is a challenging technical effort. Collecting temperature and humidity data requires array of sensors. The collected data will be analyzed for opportunities for saving.
The prototype, consists of 3 sensors mounted to a PVC tube as per ASHRAE recommendations on measurement points. The Robot was also given remote navigation capability using cameras & remote control software. The Robot collects temperature data using 3 digital sensors & relay it through a Wi-Fi access point for post-processing. An EMC algorithm will convert the temperature data into a thermal map.
The thermal map can be used to easily identify the hot & cold spots of the data center aisles with location information. Fixing a simple cooling leak or a missing blanking panel will save a lot of energy.
We used data center tiles as the standard unit of measurement for navigation. There are two navigation modes - remote control & autonomous.
Remote control uses an opensource software over wifi & live video is streamed as well.
Autonomous mode uses a different software which can take the data center layout as input and navigate in a cycle.
Video of the robot in action:
Ravi - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/varmaravi
Arun - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/itsmeatarun
Maddy - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/madhavanh
EMC - www.emc.com , Twitter: @EMC_India
Please contact us for the source code & building instructions
EMC's Annual Innovation Showcase: Our Innovation Showcase is a competition that invites EMC teams or individual employees to submit ideas for solutions to company or customer challenges. The Showcase generates breakthrough ideas for technical innovations and business process improvements that will help EMC, our customers and the Information Technology industry continue to thrive over the long term.
Please visit http://www.emc.com/corporate/sustainability/delivering-value/innovation.htm for more information about Innovation @ EMC