Posted in commercial service robot

The future is here: Service robotics will change our lives

Robots are now being increasingly adopted for service applications, both by consumers and professionals. The service robot market comprises many different types of robots, most of which can be used for applications in multiple industries.

At a consumer level, service robots are commonly used for tedious and repetitive tasks such as domestic chores, or for leisure and entertainment purposes. At a professional level, service robotics often represents an investment that has potential to significantly increase efficiency and reduce costs by replacing traditional methods. Industries that will experience changing dynamics due to the entrance of intelligent service robots include agriculture, construction, medical, logistics, hospitality, entertainment and domestic consumer goods.

Ten major segments of the service robot market are believed to hold great market potential looking at the next ten years. These include floor cleaning robots, robot lawn mowers, milking robots, telepresence robots, surgical robots, automated guided vehicles, autonomous mobile robots, unmanned aerial vehicles as well as humanoid, assistant and social companion robots. The installed base of service robots in these segments reached 29.6 million worldwide at the end of 2016.

Moreover, 0.1 million AGVs and 0.05 million milking robots are estimated to have been active worldwide at the end of 2016. The remaining segments including humanoid service robots, assistant robots and companion robots, telepresence robots, powered human exoskeletons, surgical robots and autonomous mobile robots are all estimated to have had less than 50,000 units installed each at the end of 2016. The strong market growth is expected to last for years to come, driving the number of active service robots worldwide to 264.3 million by 2026, which corresponds to CAGR of 24 percent between 2016 and 2026.

In recent years, many government and industry research funding programs have been initiated. Examples of such programs include the National Robotics Initiative in the US, the SPARC program in the EU, the Robot Revolution Initiative in Japan, the Made in China 2025 program and the Industry 4.0 program in Germany. Most of these programs are aimed at the larger field of robotics and automation.

Major companies such as Amazon, Intel, Google and IBM that have invested heavily into commercial service robots during the past decade are important for the future robotics development. However, the number of companies that can be regarded as startups in the service robotics industry is growing rapidly and their role in the industry is just as important as the large actors.

Posted in commercial service robot

Robotics-as-a-service helps your business in various ways

Anyone who’s familiar with cloud computing might know about software-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, and other “as-a-service” delivery models. But they might be not be aware of the latest iteration: robotics-as-a-service (RaaS).

RaaS also leverages the cloud, and makes it possible for organizations to integrate robots and embedded devices into the web and cloud computing environments. This capability will become increasingly important as robots become more common in work environments such as warehouses, distribution centers, and stores.

With RaaS, data captured by artificial intelligent robots — such as customer preferences or inventory status — can be stored on a cloud-based system and retrieved as needed by human workers. This type of service can provide even more value if a company is operating a fleet of hundreds of robots, each performing a variety of tasks.

The RaaS provider could handle maintenance of the robots as well as integration between the robots and databases used across the enterprise. The advantages of this model, much like with cloud services in general, can include cost savings, easier management and scalability, and greater flexibility.

Currently the term “robotics-as-a service” is used to describe two separate robotics approaches, said Dan Kara, practice director for innovative AI robotics at research firm ABI Research.

First there is RaaS as a technical method. Often referred to as “Cloud service humanoid robots,” it includes internet-connected robots using cloud based, pay-as-you-go, computational and data storage resources.

RaaS is also the term applied to business models where robotics systems are rented on a monthly or quarterly basis, with often with technical support, real-time monitoring, and other services included.

Technical- and business-oriented RaaS approaches are often combined, Kara said.

The emergence of RaaS reflects the broader move to services-based models in technology.

“The general trend among many technology providers is a long-term migration away from selling products to selling services beyond the usual incremental revenue from support, maintenance and upgrades charges,” Kara said.

“Services are recurrent revenue, and are looked on favorably by both technology providers and the investment community. Like the technology sector at large, suppliers of commercial service robot have adopted robotics-as-a-service business models and this trend is accelerating.”

Both users of robotics technologies and robotics suppliers benefit from RaaS business arrangements, Kara said. “Service-oriented solutions are not uncommon in the robotics sector, where the high cost of platforms and risk aversion to new technologies and applications can impede growth,” he said.

In addition, for some types of robotic systems a business model that relies on hardware sales is untenable, even if there are charges for maintenance, upgrades, customization and so on. There are also technical reasons for the RaaS approach, Kara said. For example, the computational resources available for a given advanced AI robot might be inadequate for the task at hand. In this case, a cloud robotics approach might be suitable.

Robotics companies that employ a RaaS business model typically offer emerging technologies whose value proposition and total cost of ownership are largely unknown. Kara said.

Representative companies employing a RaaS business model include PrecisionHawk (drone-based surveying for agriculture), Sanbot (Robot for home, enterprises, retail, hospitality, healthcare and education), Aethon (mobile robots for healthcare logistics), InTouch Health (mobile robotic telepresence), and Liquid Robotics (unmanned underwater vehicles).