Bombyx is being licensed for product growth
When we first designed our solution for deploying fiber optic cables from the air, Bombyx (the Latin name for a silk moth), we envisioned a robot that weaves strands of fiber optic cable across power lines, helping human workers quickly connect communities even in the most rural or remote areas. After years of successful research, Bombyx is now taking the next steps in its development. Meta will license the technology to a Japanese robotics company. Hibot.
Hibot will use its decades of experience in robot development to make this technology operational and continue to develop it together with its partners. “We see this as a great opportunity for our business expansion. It is also an honor to have been selected by Meta to continue this exciting endeavor,” said Michele Guarnieri, CEO of Hibot. “We will work with our current global partners while seeking new and valuable alliances to help us leverage this great innovation.”
In addition to the fiber deployment use case, Hibot will leverage the core innovations we have developed for fiber installation to accelerate its current work in infrastructure inspection and also open up new opportunities such as: B. Upgrading of power grid infrastructure to support grid upgrade, etc., wider use of renewable energy.
What is Bombyx?
Fiber optic cables are the foundation of the global internet. With a capacity orders of magnitude greater than any other technology, the use of fiber enables numerous low-cost connectivity. Although the cost of fiber optic cable is low, the high cost and complexity of fiber optic installation has hampered widespread adoption.
Bombyx was designed to address the cost and complexity of fiber installation. It is an evolution of an older, less common fiber optic installation technique called spiral wrap, in which fiber optic cable is wrapped around an existing power line conductor. However, the need to turn off power for an extended period of time to allow for fiber installation, the cumbersome fiber winding process, and the limited continuous lengths of fiber that can be installed are all significant challenges in adopting spiral winding technology.
Bombyx addresses these challenges through a number of important innovations. By combining a novel miniature fiber optic cable and combining it with a unique spoolless cable geometry, Bombyx enables long fiber optic runs to be packed into a small volume and wrapped around a power line conductor without counterweights. Bombyx also introduces the first robot capable of crossing live conductors and automatically negotiating obstacles, including pin and post insulators, that must be negotiated from above. It does this through a combination of machine vision and custom sensors, combined with engine fans, propulsion/elevation/rotation subsystems, and advanced stabilization controls that allow it to balance itself and negotiate obstacles like a tightrope walker.
The Next Frontier
While rural areas are making strides in terms of connectivity, they still lag behind denser urban areas. We have always envisioned Bombyx as a pioneering technology to help bring underprivileged people online around the world. Achieving this requires close collaboration at all levels, from the engineers developing the technology to the on-site installers laying the cables with Bombyx. We believe Bombyx will help enable new large-scale fiber deployments that will ultimately benefit every consumer by offering higher capacity and lower costs. We look forward to seeing how Hibot builds on our efforts with Bombyx and what exciting things they will do with the technology next.