The Infosys Labs research blog tracks trends in technology with a focus on applied research in Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

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Robotics as a Service

International Federation of Robots have published 'World Robotics Report 2020' which mentions that a record 2.7 million industrial robots are operating in the factories around the world. It is a staggering 12% growth. Industries such as logistics, retail, manufacturing has always needed extra hands and now that they are here, many have deployed swarms of robots on a large scale in either factories or warehouses or even physical retail stores.

Within a span of five years, India has doubled the number of industrial robots as per the robotics report. Flipkart in India have deployed an army of robots in their parcel sorting hub near Bangalore. Amazon has done the same in several of their fulfillment centers. These are just a few examples of the potential of robotics. In the recent years, hundreds of startups providing robotic automation solutions working on thousands of different use cases have emerged and are thriving in this era of automation.

Even before robotic products could realize their full potential finding applications in different industries, there is an emerging service around the robotics which is much more lucrative and has tremendous growth potential. Robotics as a Service (RaaS). As we are very much aware of Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, RaaS is essentially a subscription-based model in which you can subscribe for the robotic devices as and when required instead of purchasing them. This way, you don't have to worry about paying off for expensive equipment and maintaining them. Robotics as a Service (RaaS) as per ABI research predicts about $34 billion in revenue by 2026 and about 1.3 million installations.    

RaaS provides with the option of scaling the operations up and down as per the needs of business and lower cost of implementation than traditional robotics programs. These reasons are particularly of interest for small and medium enterprises as it saves them from making huge initial investments in the machinery. Since India is boosting its manufacturing sectors through several initiatives and incentive schemes, such automation subscription services would fuel the growth in manufacturing sector.

As other sector realizes the benefits of robots, RaaS will lower the entry barrier for them so that they can test out and experiment with the robotic solutions.

Giants like Amazon and Google have platforms that provides an environment to develop and deploy robotic solutions. Amazon's AWS RoboMaker provides complete cloud solution for robotics development. It provides simulation capabilities, fleet management capabilities, robotic operating system extensions for robots, etc. Whereas Google cloud robotics platform combines AI, robotics and cloud to enable an open ecosystem of automation solutions. Developers can utilize Google's data management and AI capabilities, Cloud AutoML, etc. The Google Cloud Robotics Platform will also use Google Cartographer, which provides real-time simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) in 2D and 3D. These organizations have done much to provide conducive environment for robotics solution development.

There are several other robotic startups and organizations which provide RaaS apart from selling their own robotic products. Fetch Robotics provides the only Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) solution that deploys in hours. They offer turnkey systems that safely find, track, and move anything from parts to pallets in warehouses, factories, and distribution centers.

Invia Robotics also provide similar service with autonomous robots and powerful software and dedicated engineering expertise that seamlessly integrates with your systems. Their team of engineers monitor and maintain the robots remotely so that your systems are always up to the mark.

KUKA enable customers to rent or buy used robots. Used industrial robots from KUKA allow cost-effective entry into robot-based automation. The list of such examples is quite lengthy.

The point to be considered here is that the Robotics as a Service though in its nascent stage has potential to be a major contributor in the future of robot enabled organizations. Major IT companies like Infosys and others may have a significant role to play in the progress of RaaS. With an extensive portfolio of customers from across industries, Infosys could bring such technology to its customers and help them develop robotic solutions for specific use cases in different sectors by being a technology partner and utilizing the development environment provided by companies like Amazon and Google.

With the benefits of scalability, flexibility and lower cost implementations of robotic solutions, RaaS is definitely a trend to pursue for companies across industries and sectors.


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