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United States Patent Application 20170364091
Kind Code A1
Bennett; James Duane ;   et al. December 21, 2017

MODULAR MULTITIER MOBILE UNITS

Abstract

A network of modular, multitier mobile units that are each capable of collecting data for processing as a user uses them in their residence or business premises performing a task or a chore, or as they move about within an area in a property based on their mobility capabilities and current location. The modular, multitier mobile units are designed including NFC or other near or full contact pads on which emitters and/or sensor units and/or other robot mechanical/electrical units can be docked and powered without requiring connectors. The modular, multitier mobile unit networks are designed to function in many different tiers, such as tier zero node, tier one node, tier two node and tier three cloud node, each having capabilities to process the collected data. The modular, multitier mobile units are capable of sharing the collected data and resources with each other. The tier three cloud node provides additional processing power that does not exist in lower level tiers and also provides artificial intelligence, voice recognition and synthesis, face recognition capabilities.


Inventors: Bennett; James Duane; (Hroznetin, CZ) ; Rao; Bindu Rama; (Laguna Niguel, CA)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Bennett; James Duane
Rao; Bindu Rama

Hroznetin
Laguna Niguel

CA

CZ
US
Family ID: 1000002725916
Appl. No.: 15/622531
Filed: June 14, 2017


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent Number
62350187Jun 15, 2016

Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: G05D 1/0291 20130101; H04L 67/104 20130101; G05D 1/0088 20130101; A01D 34/008 20130101; A01D 43/16 20130101; A01D 34/64 20130101; A47L 2201/022 20130101; A47L 9/2894 20130101; A47L 9/2852 20130101; A47L 9/2857 20130101; A47L 9/2805 20130101; A01D 2101/00 20130101; A47L 2201/04 20130101; A47L 7/00 20130101
International Class: G05D 1/02 20060101 G05D001/02; G05D 1/00 20060101 G05D001/00; A47L 9/28 20060101 A47L009/28; A01D 43/16 20060101 A01D043/16; A01D 34/00 20060101 A01D034/00; A47L 7/00 20060101 A47L007/00; H04L 29/08 20060101 H04L029/08; A01D 34/64 20060101 A01D034/64

Claims



1. A network of electronic units, with mobility, comprising: a group of mobile units; the group of mobile units perform their primary functions; and the group of mobile units perform many secondary functions, comprising: collecting sensor data; processing the collected sensor data; and consuming the processed data.

2. The network of electronic units of claim 1, wherein the mobile units are modular devices.

3. The network of electronic units of claim 2, wherein the modular devices comprising a pluggable and detachable processing unit.

4. The network of electronic units of claim 2, wherein the modular devices comprising pluggable and detachable sensor units.

5. The network of electronic units of claim 1, wherein the primary functions comprise vacuum cleaning.

6. The network of electronic units of claim 1, wherein the primary functions comprise lawn mowing.

7. The network of electronic units of claim 1, wherein the sensors comprising video cameras.

8. The network of electronic units of claim 1, wherein the group of mobile units share the collected data.

9. The network of electronic units of claim 1, wherein the group of mobile units share resources.

10. The network of electronic units of claim 9, wherein the sharing of resources comprises resolving conflicts.

11. An electronic infrastructure comprising: a mobile unit, which functions at a lower tier; electronic devices, which function at middle tiers; a cloud system, which functions at a higher tier; the mobile unit collects sensor data and processes it; the electronic devices further process and consume the collected sensor data; and the cloud system provides additional processing assistance to the lower tiers.

12. The electronic infrastructure of claim 11, wherein the electronic devices further control and manage the mobile unit.

13. The electronic infrastructure of claim 11, wherein the cloud system further controls and manages the mobile unit.

14. The electronic infrastructure of claim 11, wherein the provides additional processing assistance comprises artificial intelligence assistance.

15. The electronic infrastructure of claim 11, wherein the provides additional processing assistance comprises voice recognition assistance.

16. The electronic infrastructure of claim 11, wherein the provides additional processing assistance comprises voice synthesis assistance.

17. The electronic infrastructure of claim 11, wherein the provides additional processing assistance comprises face recognition assistance.

18. The electronic infrastructure of claim 11, wherein the sensor comprises a video camera.

19. The electronic infrastructure of claim 11, wherein the mobile unit is a robot.

20. A method performed by a multi-operation resource manager, the method comprising: registering new service operations; receiving request for resources; scheduling the new service operations; resolving the conflict and arbitrating; and informing, about needed additional resources, if any.
Description



CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present U.S. Utility patent application claims priority pursuant to 35 U.S.C. .sctn.119(e) to U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/350,187, entitled "Modular Mobile Units," filed Jun. 15, 2016, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety and made part of the present U.S. Utility patent application for all purposes.

BACKGROUND

1. Technical Field

[0002] The present invention relates generally to mobile units, and, more specifically, to modular, multitier and peer-to-peer communicating mobile units.

2. Related Art

[0003] Several types of chores conducted by people in their house or near their residential properties by traditional methods require full attention of the user, physical activity and sometimes hard labor. Many of such tasks are routine such as house cleaning and lawn mowing, but for full house and yard maintenance the use of expensive tools and appliances are needed that often require a great deal of expertise to use correctly. Moreover, most of these require a person to operate them manually.

[0004] To offload some of these responsibilities, robotic mowers and vacuum cleaners have been created. For example, a home vacuum called Roomba.RTM. and Robomow.RTM. mowers exists that when operating meander around to attempt to clean floors and cut grass respectively.

[0005] Many other types of electronic gadgets with some mobility are available today. For example, there are a few types of vacuum cleaners and robots. They exhibit some automation in mobility. They function within the limits of their designated functionalities. Their mobility is random and they seem to just bump into things and walls constantly. In addition, they can only perform one primary task such as vacuuming and are of limited capabilities.

[0006] Further limitations and disadvantages of conventional and traditional approaches will become apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art through comparison of such systems with the present invention.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] The present invention is directed to apparatus and methods of operation that are further described in the following Brief Description of the Drawings, the Detailed Description of the Invention, and the claims. Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention made with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] FIG. 1 is a perspective block diagram of a multitier mobile unit infrastructure wherein the mobile unit infrastructure provides communication and data collection services employing one or more mobile units capable of being managed as they provide a service or as they move within a premises or boundary;

[0009] FIG. 2 is a perspective block diagram of a network of mobile units that are each capable of collecting data for processing as a user uses them in their residence performing a primary task or a chore, or as they move about within an area in a property based on their mobility capabilities and current location;

[0010] FIG. 3 is a perspective block diagram illustrating direct control and management of a mobile unit from a tier three cloud services within the multitier mobile unit infrastructure of FIG. 1;

[0011] FIG. 4 is a perspective block diagram illustrating peer-to-peer sharing of data and duties between multiple mobile units, and manage time sharing and resource allocation, within the multitier mobile unit infrastructure of FIG. 1;

[0012] FIG. 5 is a perspective block diagram that illustrates a modular mobile unit design including NFC or other near or full contact pads on which emitters and/or sensor units and/or other robot mechanical/electrical units can be docked and powered without requiring connectors;

[0013] FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary usage of the multitier mobile unit infrastructure of FIG. 1;

[0014] FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram illustrating another exemplary usage of the multitier mobile unit infrastructure of FIG. 1;

[0015] FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram illustrating exemplary peer to peer dataflow involved within the multitier mobile unit infrastructure of FIG. 1; and

[0016] FIG. 9 is a schematic diagram illustrating exemplary time sharing and resource allocation involved within the multitier mobile unit infrastructure of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0017] FIG. 1 is a perspective block diagram of a multitier mobile unit infrastructure 105 wherein the mobile unit infrastructure 105 provides communication and data collection services employing one or more mobile units capable of being managed as they provide a service or as they move within a premises or boundary. The mobile unit 143 is depicted here as a lawn mower, but could be anything such as a vacuum cleaner, drone, robot (bot, here onwards), an appliance, toy etc., that provides a variety of services to the user, besides their primary functions. The primary functions and services, for example, could be one or more of cleaning, vacuuming, mowing, children monitoring, garden maintaining, house guard, household assistant or office assistant and so forth. Their management (or controlling) occurs from software located in the mobile unit 143 itself, or software located in at least one of a smartphone, personal computer, laptop, cloud systems, dedicated handheld systems, game controller etc. The user or owner actively provides inputs or configures the management software to work in a particular customized manner. The mobile unit 143 is battery operated, such as built-in rechargeable batteries, and are capable of docking to charging stations on its own. They learn details of their environment they operate in, and provide services other than their primary task/function, that go way beyond their respective primary functions.

[0018] The mobile unit infrastructure 105 is designed (or architected) to function as multitier hardware and software systems. In one embodiment, the mobile unit 143 functions as a tier zero (or, T0 node or element) system. The mobile unit 143 also functions as tier zero, tier one (or, T1 node or element) to tier two (or, T2 node or element) system, in other embodiments. On the contrary, the T1 to T2 system 131, installed into independent controllers such as 163, 173, 161, functions to manage or control the mobile unit1 143, in conjunction with the tier three (or, T3) cloud systems 111. The T3 cloud system exclusively functions as management (control) system with many exhaustive software tools available (for one or more service layers) to the mobile unit 143 or the user.

[0019] The mobile unit 143 consists of many pluggable and removable (modular) sensors such as video camera 167 along with flash light, pluggable microphones and other sensors 169 and pluggable and reusable emitters 171, such as speakers and infrared light emitters. Some configurations have emitters that spread chemicals, water, etc. as necessary. The sensors 167, 169 have a plurality of functions. They assist in a very important function, that being the mobility of the mobile units 143, such as not bumping into each other, not bumping into the objects, keeping a distance from people and pets, and so forth. They also assist in figuring out the condition of the environment, depending on the primary and secondary functions, such as determining the grass height and other conditions, determining the wear and tear of carpets, temperature within the buildings and outside the buildings, etc. For example, a lawn mower can flash a light 167 and say "This place needs mowing." The timing also matters in these scenarios; in the morning the mobile units 143 can identify the faces of people and say "Good morning . . . " Similarly, the emitters 171 have a plurality of functions, based on the services currently employing them, or the collaborative task it is involved in (with other mobile units, for example). The mobile units 143 can connect to artificial intelligence engines 115, such as Alexa.RTM., and answer questions of the user. The emitters 171, based on configuration, can also dispense liquids, for example, dispensing weed killer liquids after identifying them.

[0020] An external flash drive and circuitry 175 plugs into the mobile unit 143, it contains many software applications (tier zero system 155) belonging to the tiers T0 to T3. The mobile unit 143 also contains a pluggable and removable brain unit 151 (processing circuitry). This circuitry performs controlling, management and related processing, that helps it communicate with other mobile units, facilitates their management, receives voice commands, and communicates collected (composited) data.

[0021] The mobile unit 143 also contains a mobile phone (or an electronic device, in general) 163 or a dedicated handheld portable control unit 173 receptacle 153. The mobile holder 153 allows the users to input variables within the control circuitry, that helps in setting configuration, resetting or any other changes in the parameters to be set. The dedicated handheld portable control unit 173 contains client system circuitry 141 and is installed with a client application. In one embodiment, the mobile unit 143 also contains embedded sensors 157.

[0022] The tier one to two system 131 is embodied in the electronic device 163 that is optionally plugged into the receptacle or holder 153 which comprises a hinged open section that snaps into a complementary rigid section thereby securely holding the electronic device 163 in place, as intended. The tier one to two system 131 is also installed into an appliance 161 with a display, located within the premises that is then used to manage and/or communicate with the mobile unit 143. Communication networks 181 makes communication (data and control information exchanges) between T0, T1, T2, T3 systems possible.

[0023] The mobile unit's 143 pluggable and removable sensors, in general, include at least one of: a) sonar; b) 2D and 3D cameras tuned for visible, ultraviolet and infrared frequencies; c) music recording and playback circuitry; d) spectrum analyzers; e) micro or pico projector elements and circuitry; f) video player circuitry; g) wireless hub/extender or wireless bridging circuitry (where the unit 143 employs RSSI or other signal strength measurements and responds by finding optimal positioning through movement to support such functions); h) voice recognition and synthesis and artificial intelligence (AI) software and circuitry and/or linkages and interfaces to same on cloud or handheld or server computing systems; i) smoke and radon detection circuitry and elements; and j) home appliance controller and/or communication interface circuitry.

[0024] The mobile unit 143 can be assembled and/or configured and reconfigured to carry a multitude of several different sensors based on its purported usage and based on services it is designed to provide. The following are some sensors and detection and identification elements whose usage and incorporation is anticipated: a) proximity, range, tilt, motion, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, GPS; b) rain, snow, temperature, ice, mud; c) bugs, molds, weeds, flowers, worms, birds, humans, pets, rodents; d) ultrasonic; e) acoustic wave; f) infrared (IR); g) ultraviolet; h) multi-microphone; i) wireless; j) grass height & carpet height/character detection by either or both of drive force measurements--pull up and down the blade/vac, and visual (see Berber and use a particular vacuum approach, or see rocks and switch from fixed blade to sling blade or plastic whip cutting); k) altimeter; l) barometer; m) smoke, radon, radiation, CO2, carbon monoxide; n) pollen counter; o) video/imager--plus face recognition/detection, human body, pet, objects; p) lumen/ambient light; q) spectrum analyzer; r) pump/fan particulate counter; s) dissolved solids detection (e.g., calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, bicarbonates, chlorides, sulfates); t) PH; u) alkalinity; v) detection and dispensing--chlorine (to disinfect and sanitize pool and other water--kills algae and bacteria) and cyanuric acid (to protects chlorine from UV); w) bacteria, fungus, virus detection and identification; x) algae, mite, microbe detection and identification; and y) 3D depth sensing and dimensioning.

[0025] The mobile unit 143 is fitted with emitters of different kinds, some of them incorporated by default based on the tasks to be performed by it and the environment it is to be used, while other emitters are plugged in or added by the user for specific tasks. The following are some of the emitters whose use is anticipated: a) laser--pointing or higher power to even cut grass or items or kill bugs (inside and out); b) zapper for killing indoor outdoor bugs--even under a vacuum for bugs that "hold and" and can't be vacuumed up or within the vacuum's waste cavity for vacuumed bugs; c) flash, spot, headlamps, area lighting as needed by bot sensors or by humans; d) micro-projector; e) wood lamp--can use with vacuum bot to identify types of stains and recommend particular cleaners--blood and such may glow and so on; f) sprayer and drip and spoon/blade/brush kicker/spreader; g) IR to support ranging and Google Tango type 3D mapping for better sensory imager pickup even at night or with lights off or dim; h) UV lamps to disinfect or kill microbes, bacteria and render viruses harmless; i) plant grow lights (Rule: 20 to 40 watts per square foot)--in or outside--HID's "high intensity discharge" (MH "metal halide", HPS "high pressure sodium"), fluorescent, etc. (note: bot can be commanded to move to a plant and provide light and spray water and nutrient mixtures as well as test soil dampness, fertilizer deficiencies, bugs and fungus--bugs/leaf-spots/coloration can be identified via cloud support to determine harm/helpfulness or servicing procedures); j) IR, Red or Blue to promote healing; k) white light or spectrum step-through to support spectral analysis; l) heating element that can cut or kill (e.g., a hot wire can cut and cauterize grass and such wire could be fixed or arranged to rotate); and m) fire extinguisher elements.

[0026] A tier three cloud/server control system & services 111 provides remote control, voice based interactions, user management, user authentication, etc., at T3 level. The tier three cloud server control system & services 111 comprises an operational control support 113, and a user/app command interface 117 which employs a voice recognition & synthesis module 121. The tier three cloud server control system & services 161 also comprises an artificial intelligence engine 115 the in turn comprises a sensor processing support modules 119 for processing data collected from various sensors on the mobile unit 143. The voice recognition & synthesis module 121 receives voice commands and requests from a user via the mobile unit 143 and the client system 141, etc. It processes these voice commands to decipher the user's intent, the executes those commands locally, or forwards instructions back to the mobile unit 143 and the client system 141, etc. as necessary. It also synthesizes response to information requested, alerts, notifications, etc. as voice output and communicates it to the mobile unit 143, the client system 141, the appliance 161, etc. as needed.

[0027] Finally, several of the embodiments described herein can be merged into a common embodiment, and the functionality of these combined embodiments enhance the overall functional capability, data collection and processing, and sharing abilities, including sharing with other mobile devices locally present, and with the tier three cloud/server control system & services 111. This merger may involve a factory design configuration which enables a single mobile unit (such as the mobile unit 143) to take on a plurality of functionality such as providing for family photo and video capture, vacuuming, acting as a mobile Alexa.RTM. device (for voice interfacing), acting as a toy or playing games such as hide and seek, identifying a need for carpet replacement (by comparing prior images and thread characteristics with that of current), fetching items such as keys, and so on. Alternatively, the mobile unit 143 can be configured by a user often by merely downloading new apps or signing up to some cloud based service. Other times, the user may purchase add on elements that can be added to the mobile unit 143 to assist in a providing of new functions. Also, additional supporting elements (such as remote cameras or sensors or communication hubs) might be added to the environment around the home to assist the mobile unit 143 when its current hardware and software configuration is limited or when the service itself requires.

[0028] It should be clear that the mobile unit 143 takes many forms, such as a robotic CAR, a driverless truck, a semi-robotic or robotic vehicle. For example, the mobile unit is anything that is robotic, mobile and capable of data collection and sharing in accordance with the present invention.

[0029] FIG. 2 is a perspective block diagram of a network of mobile units 205 that are each capable of collecting data for processing as a user uses them in their residence performing a primary task or a chore, or as they move about within an area in a property based on their mobility capabilities and current location. The FIG. 2 depicts a variety of mobile units 251, 259, 265, 261, 263 and 267, each belonging to either T0 node or T0-T2 nodes (depending upon their design, by the manufacturer). They reside within a user's property (home, residence, apartment, office or an entire building, street etc.) and function independently, performing their respective primary functions as well as a plurality of their secondary functions (services), utilizing their puck shaped brain units (processing units) 255, 271, 273, 275 and 277. The mobile units 251, 259, 265, 261, 263 and 267, using their brain units 255, 271, 273, 275 and 277, function independently. Furthermore, the brain units 255, 271, 273, 275 and 277 are designed to be compact, portable and easy to plug-in and detach. That is, the brain units 255, 271, 273, 275 and 277 are modular and can be replaced with new ones (with more memory and processing power, for example), when their functionalities become obsolete or perform slowly.

[0030] Even though the mobile units 251, 259, 265, 261, 263 and 267 are designed to function independently, using their brain units 255, 271, 273, 275 and 277, they share information between each other. This peer-to-peer networking capability enhances their functionalities and reduces redundancies, in terms of processing. That way, they function faster and without unwanted additional work loads. To be more precise, these mobile units 251, 259, 265, 261, 263 and 267, using their puck shaped brain units (controller) 255, 271, 273, 275 and 277, interact with each other and share information such as a map of the premises, the location of different objects within the premises, etc., after they discover the presence of each other and establish communication links. The drone 261 has a built-in controller that conducts similar functionality, while the toy truck 263 comprises a mounted screen that embodies the features of the brain unit (puck shaped controller).

[0031] Each of the mobile units 251, 259, 265, 261, 263 and 267 are capable of taking pictures or short videos, record audio and perform many other secondary functions. While they take pictures (of an intruder, for example, while performing a secondary duty of security guard) or any other such secondary duties, they analyze data received from other mobile units 251, 259, 265, 261, 263 and 267 and aggregate them and use them as if the received data were locally collected by them.

[0032] In one configuration, the mobile unit 267 is a mobile voice activated camera unit also capable of taking pictures and videos when instructed. The mobile unit 267 comprises a camera unit 283 with multiple camera elements (each capable of taking images, processing them and storing them) and a retractable flag post 281, that takes picture at an eye level of a user, automatically adjusting the length of the retractable post based on its observations or based on user commands (including voice commands). A camera element moves into field and then focuses as needed to take a 2D or a 3D photo/image of a user, a group of users or a section of a room. The mobile unit 267 moves round, takes videos and pictures, talks to people, and take pictures when people say "cheese" for example. It frames a user's face or whole body or a whole group, as instructed using voice commands. It recognizes people whom it has encountered earlier and greets them. It recognizes new faces and interacts with them accordingly.

[0033] In addition, each of the mobile units 251, 259, 265, 261, 263 or 267 can be configured to handoff a task (or even a partially completed task) to a second mobile unit 251, 259, 265, 261, 263 or 267 for completion. This handoff is accompanied by as much information, data and linkage information as can be consumed by the second mobile unit 251, 259, 265, 261, 263 or 267 to make it easier to take on the task without user interaction, setup or guidance. Such handoff can occur for several reasons, including specialization, malfunction and low-power status. That is, such handoff may involve exchange of task completion status, context details, and optionally, a map (2D of 3D map) exchange/transfer. The second mobile unit 251, 259, 265, 261, 263 or 267 starts executing the incomplete task and subsequently communicates a task completion notification to the mobile unit 251, 259, 265, 261, 263 or 267. The handoff may be temporary or permanent, and a return handoff when the first mobile unit 251, 259, 265, 261, 263 or 267 is supported. For example, an incomplete task is handed over by one mobile unit 251, 259, 265, 261, 263 or 267 to another mobile unit 251, 259, 265, 261, 263 or 267 for task completion.

[0034] The mobile unit 251, 259, 265, 261, 263 or 267, in some configurations, cooperates with other mobile units on conducting some tasks or providing some services. For example, one mobile unit lawnmower 251 cuts grass by mowing while another cooperating mobile unit follows it around, if necessary, and performs edging and trimming. In some other configurations, the mobile unit lawnmower 251 maps rocks encountered, irregularities encountered. Then, based upon user preferences, it selectively and cooperatively shares this data with other lawn mowers within the premises, or other local or remote controllers, services or applications. During operation, the lawnmower 251 measures problem areas and notes it, determines condition of the lawn and takes pictures as it notices problem areas and unusual conditions.

[0035] A tier 3 user and manufacturer application/applet code and services systems 211 control and manage the mobile units 251, 259, 265, 261, 263 and 267 at the highest level, via communication networks 281. The tier 3 user and manufacturer application/applet code and services systems 211 consists of operational control support 213, user/application command interface 215, artificial intelligence engines 219, sensor processing support 221 and filter, search, browse interface 225. The user/application command interface 215 further consists of voice recognition and synthesis 217 and sensor processing support 221 further consists of video, security, recognition, etc. 223. In addition, the filter, search, browse interface 225 consists of simulation environment 227, user submission screening 229 and rating, comments, feedback module 231.

[0036] FIG. 3 is a perspective block diagram illustrating direct control and management of a mobile unit from a tier three cloud services within the multitier mobile unit infrastructure of FIG. 1. The mobile unit 345 illustrated consists of a plurality of sensors, such as a video and image camera 343 (with a flash light 339), microphones 341, plurality of emitters such as speakers 337, and a receptacle 333 that snugly holds a T1-2 handheld control and management remote control system 335. The mobile unit 345, for example, could be a lawn mower, vacuum cleaner, drone, bot, toy, mobile video and image camera, children monitoring systems etc., that provides a variety of primary and secondary functions to the user.

[0037] In some configurations, the mobile unit 345 is designed to function as a T0 node, while in many other configurations, it is designed to function as a T0-2 node. It is a decision that the manufacturer makes, so that their mobile units 345 function within the scope of a multitier mobile unit infrastructure 105 of FIG. 1. Either way, the tier T0 or T0-2 mobile unit 345 is capable of performing both primary and secondary functions independently. The mobile unit 345 may occasionally utilize services of tier three cloud services 311 to fulfill the user's wishes, as per his or her configuration settings. When the tier three cloud services 311 are inaccessible, such as when the mobile unit 345 has to function offline, the T1-2 handheld control and management remote control system 335 can download and install all the necessary programming to handle the primary and secondary functions. In one embodiment, the T1-2 handheld control and management remote control system 335 is a mobile phone.

[0038] Nonetheless, in one embodiment of the present invention, the tier three cloud services 311 control and manage the mobile unit 345, remotely. The user accesses the services of the tier three cloud services 311 via user management applications and browser interface devices 331. For example, a user who owns a lawn mower 345, which works as a T0 node and designed and developed in accordance with the present invention, can make the lawn mower 345 to function without any supervision, remotely. The lawn mower 345 can perform its primary function, which is mowing the lawn, while being controlled and managed by the tier three cloud services 311. The secondary functions of the lawn mower 345, according to the design of the manufacturer, includes taking care of lawn, attending the garden, monitoring the children when in the lawn or garden and working as a security guard.

[0039] The user sets the parameters of the lawn mower 345 to perform its primary and secondary functions in the configurations page of the tier three cloud services 311, by accessing it via the browser 331 of the user's personal computer or smartphone. The parameters for the primary function of the lawn mower 345 include height of the grass. Similarly, parameters for the secondary functions of the lawn mower 345 include temperature at the lawn, amount of rain, amount of water to be released in the absence of the rain, weed types to be destroyed, types of garden plant's diseases to be monitored, identifying the children's faces, identifying intruders, boundaries in terms of GPS coordinates, etc.

[0040] Finally, the tier three cloud services 311 store all the collected data from the mobile unit 345. The user can browse and access the data and instruct the mobile unit 345 for specific functionality from a distance, such as during a vacation. For example, the tier three cloud services 311, via the browser 331, can display a map of the house or garden, and inform the user that "These places need vacuuming or mowing . . . " or "The temperature is high now, so the lawn and garden needs more watering . . . " The interaction with the tier three cloud services 311 can be both instructive and informative.

[0041] The tier three cloud services 311 consists of direct and cloud based management environment 313 and access control element 315 to make the abovementioned embodiments possible. The communication network 381 makes access of remotely located server of the tier three cloud services 311 and the mobile unit 345, as well as all other communications possible.

[0042] FIG. 4 is a perspective block diagram illustrating peer-to-peer sharing of data and duties 405 between multiple mobile units, and manage time sharing and resource allocation, within the multitier mobile unit infrastructure of FIG. 1. A residential or business premises can reside a plurality of mobile units 415, 417, 419, 421 and 423, managed and controlled by programs residing in the mobile units 415, 417, 419, 421 and 423 themselves, a handheld device 413, such as a smartphone, and/or remotely located tier three cloud/server control systems and services 411. The mobile units 415, 417, 419, 421 and 423 are located in different rooms or corners of the residential or business premises. The data and functions are shared between these mobile units 415, 417, 419, 421 and 423, within the residential or business premises. This is especially the case, when a household function cannot be performed by one of the mobile units 415, 417, 419, 421 and 423, for a variety of reasons, such as, low battery status. In such circumstances, the handheld device 413 or remotely located tier three cloud/server control systems and services 411 manage time sharing and resource allocation.

[0043] To manage time sharing and resource allocation, each of tiers T0, T1, T2 and T3 is fitted with software program code dedicated to resource arbitration and scheduling, e.g., a multi-operation resource manager 415. Each service operation registers with the multi-operation resource manager 415 indicating its service operation needs in both resource elements and operating times and needs. The multi-operation resource manager 415 then coordinates handoff of resources as needed and arranged for sharing configurations and scheduling to accommodate application needs. The multi-operation resource manager 415 can be accessed and configured by the user through a variety of ways including on any of the system nodes or any computing device 413. Deficiencies can be reported to the user so that the base infrastructure can be upgraded as needed.

[0044] For example, a missing but needed sensor required by one service operation can be identified to the user by the multi-operation resource manager 415, and, likewise, a needed duplicate where sharing is not possible could reveal a need to buy a second dockable NFC (near field communications) sensor to accommodate the multiple service operation coexistence. Resources include that bot and helper bot functional elements as well as in any of the support devices located within the residential or business premises. Deficiencies in any node can be reported and updated or upgraded as directed by the manager. This may merely take the form of a needed software upgrade or download to achieve conformance.

[0045] FIG. 5 is a perspective block diagram that illustrates a modular mobile unit design 505 including NFC or other near or full contact pads on which emitters and/or sensor units and/or other robot mechanical/electrical units can be docked and powered without requiring connectors. The FIG. 5 illustrates three different modules: a chassis 511, middle unit 533 and an IoT (Internet of Things) device 535 of a modular mobile unit, in one configuration. They are pluggable and detachable modules 511, 533 and 535, which communicate with each other via WiFi, Bluetooth, infrared or via physical connectors. The chassis module 511 consists of receptacles 521, 523 to which modules such as a variety of sensors 513 and video camera 515 (a sensor as well) plug in, respectively. Moreover, the chassis module 511 also consists of a pluggable and detachable controller and display interface 525. The middle unit module 533 contains a brain unit 531, which is a compact, pluggable and detachable processing circuitry.

[0046] The modularity of the modular mobile units provides flexibility to the user to purchase various modular units together and assemble them as needed. For example, a more powerful Wi-Fi unit (not shown in the FIG. 5, but the Wi-Fi unit is similar to the sensor module 513 or 515) can be purchased and plugged into a lawn mower (modular mobile unit). When the lawn mower, which functions as a lawn mower, but also as a security guard, and lawn and garden maintenance unit, becomes outdated and functions slowly, only those modules that are outdated can be replaced with latest ones available in the market. This also provides enormous flexibility to the manufacturers, dealers and users. The users save some money as well.

[0047] For example, the modular mobile unit can be a lawn mower. It comprises three different pieces that are integrated together or assembled as necessary: a) the middle unit module 533 with an optical link or an alternate communication link 537, that also comprises a vacuuming section at the bottom; b) the chassis module 511 with slots 521 for sensors and receptacles 521 for controllers, and c) the IoT (Internet of Things) device 535 such as sensors that communicate via add-on controller 525. The modular mobile unit design embodies a mobile vacuum unit that operates within a premises, receives voice commands, operates independently or under user instruction, wherein the mobile vacuum unit comprises a middle unit module 533 and a chassis module 511 that encases the middle unit module 533 as an outer cover, into which one or more sensor units 515, 513 or controllers are inserted. The middle unit module 533 communicates with the chassis module/outer cover 511 via an optical, wireless (Bluetooth, NFC, etc.) or wired communication link 537 on the middle unit module 533 and a corresponding receptacle or electronic circuitry on the chassis module 511. The mobile vacuum unit provides a resilient and a high-speed communication connection between sensors on the outer cover 511 and the middle unit module 533. In one related embodiment, the communication is via optical communications.

[0048] As mentioned above, the middle unit module 533 comprises of the brain unit 531 (coordinator/control unit) that operates pursuant to a real time operating system to support tight control loops and otherwise interact with the various sensors 513, 515, emitters and other circuitry. In an alternative configuration, the controller 525 portion is integrated into the brain unit 533 of the middle unit module 533.

[0049] FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary usage 605 of the multitier mobile unit infrastructure of FIG. 1. The example of FIG. 6 envisages the children monitoring system (CMS) 619, which consists of a pluggable and detachable video camera 621 and speaker unit 625. The children monitoring system 619 also consists of a pluggable and detachable controller and display interface 623. The children monitoring system 619 docks itself on a docking system 617 for recharging and communicates with it via WiFi, Bluetooth or infrared connections, and recharges via induction charging (using wireless electromagnetic energy) or via any other wireless charging scheme. A handheld remote control unit 613 and tier three cloud/server control system and services 651 control and manage the children monitoring system 619 and its docking system 617.

[0050] The children monitoring system 619 activates itself and moves around to get a clear view of people when they step into the garden. It recognizes owners (parents), by using the camera 621 and face recognition technology, when they step in, and takes voice commands and communicates with them via speakers 625. It also identifies children, when in garden, by using the camera 621 and face recognition technology, and interacts with them via voice communications.

[0051] For example, the parent's voice commands to the children monitoring system 619 may be "CMS, please park till tomorrow morning" or "CMS, please watch children right now" or "CMS, charge yourself now and be ready for children in two hours" or "CMS, come here and take video and photos of children playing"--using the user's voice based commands. In addition, the children monitoring system 619 is instructed by voice commands to identify anyone that comes to the door and inform specific child in the garden some specific information--for example not to run wild in the garden or to take care of saplings.

[0052] The children monitoring system 619 also functions as a security guard that recognizes faces, to recognize an intruder (face recognition is used). The children monitoring system 619 is linked to the parent's handheld remote control unit 613 and sends audio message as well as pictures taken, etc., and also sends police audio and video messages. For example, the children monitoring system 619 would warn--"Please leave now, I have sent your photos to the police, currently, this is just criminal damage charge for breaking a window, but if you enter, sentencing will elevate to breaking and entering, and if you steal something, you will be charged with theft as well--please leave immediately." In a related embodiment, the children monitoring system 619 is built into a lawn mower which looks for movement for security support, outdoors mower can patrol.

[0053] The children monitoring system 619 is also programmed to look for birds while charging and capture photos/video. The children monitoring system 619 functionalities can be enhanced by integrating other products in the market--such as Nest.RTM., Amazon Echo.RTM., Google Home.RTM., etc. The children monitoring system 619 has integrated extended microphones--which is directional and can be used at a distance. It supports voice interactions with Amazon Alexa.RTM. or Google Home.RTM. unit via wireless communications.

[0054] In some configurations, the docking system 617 operates at tier two and/or can provide other supportive functions such as having a built in wireless hub/relay/bridge. Voice inputs, e.g., supported via Amazon Alexa.RTM., is provided so that the charged children monitoring system 619 is guided by means of a dimensioned 3D map (such as those created using Google's Tango.RTM. project based processing means) processing in the docking system 617. The docking system 617 itself in a related embodiment has processing power that processes data and maps collected by the children monitoring system 619, and it provides processing power that is harnessed by the children monitoring system 619 as necessary.

[0055] The tier three cloud server control system & services 651 comprises an operational control support 653, and a user/app command interface 657 which employs a voice recognition & synthesis module 651. The tier three cloud server control system & services 161 also comprises an artificial intelligence engine 655 and a sensor processing support modules 659 for processing data collected from various sensors. Communication networks 611 makes communication (data and control information exchanges) between the tier three cloud server control system & services 651, docking system 617 and children monitoring system 619 possible.

[0056] FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram illustrating another exemplary usage 705 of the multitier mobile unit infrastructure of FIG. 1. The illustration of FIG. 7 depicts a plurality of indoor mobile units (those function within a home environment 773), such as a toy 725, vacuum cleaner 715, smartphone 719 with an attachment 727 that is designed in accordance with the present invention, and outdoor mobile units (those function outside a home environment 773, but within the boundaries determined by a fence 771) such as a lawn mower 721 and drone 717. These mobile units 725, 715, 727, 721 and 717 are equipped with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth circuitries, that assist in communicating with a central hub 723 and with a tier three cloud/server control system and services 751 (a remote cloud system). Communication links and/or networks 711 allows communications between central hub 723 and with a tier three cloud/server control system and services 751 to occur.

[0057] In this particular configuration (as illustrated), the mobile units 725, 715, 727, 721 and 717 communicate with each other by using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technologies, and share data and control information. The mobile units 725, 715, 727, 721 and 717 are designed to be tier zero to one systems, whereas the central hub 723 is designed to function as tier two systems. The control and management of these mobile units 725, 715, 727, 721 and 717 occur from a handheld portable remote controller 719, which in this configuration is the smartphone itself, and the tier three cloud/server control system and services 751.

[0058] Furthermore, to perform some of the secondary functions, such as monitoring the children, assisting the owner and so forth, the mobile units 725, 715, 727, 721 and 717 incorporate voice via Siri.RTM., Alexa.RTM. and the likes which involve the tier three cloud/server control system and services 751 support. Other voice coding can be fully tier one functional or/and work with tier two central hub 723 support. Voice and all other higher tiered processing support can be reached through direct docking links as well as any wireless approach for each and every such task. That is, some tasks that require support beyond tier zero to one may reach tier two in one wired or wireless fashion, while at the same time other such tasks reach tier two and three support via other wired or wireless linkages. In addition, processing support and even operational support can be located on different nodes as well.

[0059] For example, other tier zero to one devices (e.g., other mobile units 725, 715, 727, 721 and/or 717) can be reached by contact, near contact, longer distance peer to peer, and via multi-hop network pathways. Similarly, other tier two devices, which maybe stationary or within or being carried by other tier zero to one mobile units 725, 715, 727, 721 and 717 can be similarly directly or indirectly coupled for communication to achieve group effort support in carrying out one or more of operational functions. For example, one mobile unit 725, 715, 727, 721 or 717 may be configured with sensors needed by a second mobile unit 725, 715, 727, 721 or 717 to carry out a particular operational service. Thus, the second mobile unit 725, 715, 727, 721 or 717 makes a request to the first for the sensor data. Once received, the second mobile unit 725, 715, 727, 721 or 717 can freely complete its operational service.

[0060] FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram illustrating exemplary peer-to-peer dataflow 805 involved within the multitier mobile unit infrastructure of FIG. 1. The FIG. 8a depicts simplest possible peer-to-peer dataflow. It begins with a tier zero mobile unit-1 811 sending request for data, metadata or control information to another tier zero mobile unit-2 813 via wireless (such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and infrared) or wired communication links. Then, the tier zero mobile unit-1 811 receives the data, metadata or control information (composited data) from the tier zero mobile unit-2 813 via the same links.

[0061] For example, a mobile unit-1 (vacuum cleaner) 811 inside the house may not be equipped with a temperature sensor and may need current temperature in the garden to process and execute certain action. Another mobile unit-2 (lawn mower) 813 maybe equipped with a temperature sensor. So, the vacuum cleaner 811 requests for temperature reading and GPS data (composited data) from the lawn mower 813. The lawn mower 813, after following certain protocol, sends this temperature reading to the vacuum cleaner 811.

[0062] The FIG. 8b depicts a peer-to-peer dataflow that involves not just two tier zero mobile units, but also a higher level node, for example, a T1 node. It begins with a tier zero mobile unit-1 811 sending request for data, metadata or control information from another tier zero mobile unit-2 813, but the request is first sent to the T1 node 831. The T1 node 831 processes the request and pass through the request for the data, metadata or control information (composited data) to tier zero mobile unit-2 813. Then, the tier zero mobile unit-1 811 receives the data, metadata or control information (composited data) from the tier zero mobile unit-2 813. The situation of requesting for the composited data via a T1 node occurs, for example, when some of the T0 node mobile units do not have adequate hardware/programs to directly request data from another.

[0063] The FIG. 8c depicts a peer-to-peer dataflow that involves a tier three cloud node, in addition to T1 and T2 nodes and two tier zero mobile units. The process begins with the tier zero mobile unit-1 811 sending request for data, metadata or control information, via nodes T1 and T2, to a tier three cloud node 841. The intermediate nodes T1 and T2 simply passes through the request, or processes the request and passes through to the tier three cloud node. The T3 cloud node 841 then processes the request for composited data and sends this request to specific sensors of another tier zero mobile unit-2 813. Then, the tier zero mobile unit-1 811 receives the data, metadata or control information (composited data) from the tier zero mobile unit-2 813. The situation of involvement of tier three cloud node arises when, for example, the user's input from a remote place is required for the activity to be completed.

[0064] FIG. 9 is a schematic diagram illustrating exemplary time sharing and resource allocation 905 involved within the multitier mobile unit infrastructure of FIG. 1. The exemplary FIG. 9 depicts the T2 node (tier two node) 951 and T3 cloud node (tier three cloud node) 971 fitted with software program code dedicated to resource arbitration and scheduling, for example, a multi-operation resource manager.

[0065] The process begins with the T0 node (tier zero node) 911 and T1 node (tier one node) 911 registering their own respective new service operations with the multi-operation resource manager, in T2 node 951. The service operation registrations indicate the respective service operation needs in both resource elements and operating times and needs. Then, at a later point in time, the T2 node 951 receives request for resources from the T3 cloud node 971 and T1 node 931. The resource manager in the T2 node 951 then arranges scheduling to the T3 cloud node 971 and T1 node 931, and resolves conflicts if any and arbitrates, and allocates resources. In other words, the resource manager coordinates handoff of resources as needed and arranges sharing configurations and scheduling to accommodate application needs. The user can access the resource manager from any computing device.

[0066] After that, the resource manager in the T2 node 951 reports to the user about any deficiencies, so the upgrade can be done. The upgrade, for example, can be done by plugging in new modules containing the specific sensor modules. Similarly, a needed duplicate where sharing is not possible could reveal a need to buy a second dockable NFC sensor to accommodate the multiple service operation coexistence.

[0067] As one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate, the terms "operably coupled" and "communicatively coupled," as may be used herein, include direct coupling and indirect coupling via another component, element, circuit, or module where, for indirect coupling, the intervening component, element, circuit, or module does not modify the information of a signal but may adjust its current level, voltage level, and/or power level. As one of ordinary skill in the art will also appreciate, inferred coupling (i.e., where one element is coupled to another element by inference) includes direct and indirect coupling between two elements in the same manner as "operably coupled" and "communicatively coupled."

[0068] Although the present invention has been described in terms of GPS coordinates/and navigational information communication involving mobile phones and computers, it must be clear that the present invention also applies to other types of devices including mobile devices, laptops with a browser, a hand held device such as a PDA, a television, a set-top-box, a media center at home, robots, robotic devices, vehicles capable of navigation, and a computer communicatively coupled to the network.

[0069] It should be clear that the term "mobile unit" used herein includes cars, vehicles, driver-assisted mobility vehicles, driver-less vehicles, etc. It also includes a self-drive vehicle or a driver assisted vehicle. The mobile units 143, drone 261, lawnmower 251, lawnmower 345 and mobile unit 533 across the figures could be configured features and capabilities described herein. All of the concepts herein could be included in mobile units configured to be passenger or passenger-less vehicles, self-driver cars, driver assisted cars, farm equipment, and industrial equipment.

[0070] The present invention has also been described above with the aid of method steps illustrating the performance of specified functions and relationships thereof. The boundaries and sequence of these functional building blocks and method steps have been arbitrarily defined herein for convenience of description. Alternate boundaries and sequences can be defined so long as the specified functions and relationships are appropriately performed. Any such alternate boundaries or sequences are thus within the scope and spirit of the claimed invention.

[0071] The present invention has been described above with the aid of functional building blocks illustrating the performance of certain significant functions. The boundaries of these functional building blocks have been arbitrarily defined for convenience of description. Alternate boundaries could be defined as long as the certain significant functions are appropriately performed. Similarly, flow diagram blocks may also have been arbitrarily defined herein to illustrate certain significant functionality. To the extent used, the flow diagram block boundaries and sequence could have been defined otherwise and still perform the certain significant functionality. Such alternate definitions of both functional building blocks and flow diagram blocks and sequences are thus within the scope and spirit of the claimed invention.

[0072] One of average skill in the art will also recognize that the functional building blocks, and other illustrative blocks, modules and components herein, can be implemented as illustrated or by discrete components, application specific integrated circuits, processors executing appropriate software and the like or any combination thereof.

[0073] Moreover, although described in detail for purposes of clarity and understanding by way of the aforementioned embodiments, the present invention is not limited to such embodiments. It will be obvious to one of average skill in the art that various changes and modifications may be practiced within the spirit and scope of the invention, as limited only by the scope of the appended claims.

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