If you're brave enough to move fully-laden datacenter racks, here's the robot for you
Open Compute Partner with a material handling pedigree appears to be doing it for Meta already
Folks who show up to this week's Open Compute Summit can see something interesting if they visit Meta's stand: a rig designed to automate moves of datacenter racks over considerable distances while they're full of kit.
Material handling outfit Jtec Industries reckons a full rack that meets the Open Compute Project's ORV2 or ORV3 specs can weigh up to 1,500kg apiece, and warns that datacenter staff who try to shift them risk musculoskeletal injuries.
Jtec's bread and butter is motorized carts that move things around inside warehouses. Some of its offerings can do so autonomously.
The firm has become aware, however, that hyperscalers like to move whole racks, while full, and like to do so promptly as the need arises. Waiting for a puny human to do the job isn't feasible, Jtec suggests.
"This demand is particularly pronounced among hyperscalers, who require high-volume rack deployments and decommissioning to achieve their mission," Jtec stated last week.
Enter the "ORV2/ORV3-Compatible Server Rack Cart" which, as the name implies, is a wheeled mount for datacenter racks that's ready to roll when attached to an autonomous guided vehicle (AGV) or crewed warehouse tractor.
As shown in the video below, users load wheeled racks into the cart, which lifts it a little off the floor. Once that's done, a vehicle can move the racks around as required.
Jtec says it's spent four years developing the carts "with a major hyperscale and AGV manufacturer."
We think that hyperscaler could be Meta, because when we asked Jtec to identify its partner we were told the device can be viewed on the social networking giant's stand at the OCP Summit,
"Prototypes have been successfully deployed and are operating in several hyperscale datacenters," Jtec asserts.
- NTT Data adopting datacenter inspection robots to relieve humans of some chores
- Fujitsu to test robot datacenter inspector that – trust us – won't take your jobs
- We've never even built datacenters using robots here on Earth
- FYI: Alibaba Cloud says it has robot sysadmins that swap faulty disks in four minutes
The product's not quite ready to roll, as it were. Jtec described it has having had a "soft launch" as it awaits final safety tests. But the firm predicts "first deployment of production units expected during the fourth quarter of 2023."
Jtec's signed up as an OCP Partner, too, which may give hyperscalers more comfort that their racks are safe in the claws of warehouse robots.
A final word for would-be users: don't forget to unplug your rack before moving it. We've previously heard of a major outage caused by leaving things connected before a move. ®