Updated: Jan 22, 2021
In recent years, Robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) has soared in popularity largely due to its easy-to-use nature and the accessibility that it provides to small businesses looking to automate their processes.
What is Robotics-as-a-Service?
Similar to Software as a Service or Platform as a Service, Robotics-as-a-service is essentially a cloud based robotic rental system that aims to remove the upfront cost of digitalisation or automation. The model, similar to other “as-a-service models” aims to democratize the uptake of technology and making is available for small and medium businesses. The services sector is now similarly expanding into robotic services wherein robots can be leased on a need-based routine instead of becoming a large investment.
RaaS companies often have an hourly or daily rate at which they rent or lease out their robots to other companies for commercial use. This is a highly efficient way of automating almost every industry.
One of the major reasons why RaaS business models are growing exponentially is because they target small businesses that would not be able to automate otherwise. Most businesses refrain from automating due to the massive investment required for buying robotic systems. The RaaS business model eliminates the need to buy altogether by making the robots available on a need-to-use basis.
RaaS not only provides accessibility but also ease-of-maintenance, which makes it beneficial not only for small businesses but also for larger corporations. Particularly in the case of retail and manufacturing, where maintenance would cost more than its worth, a temporary robot is more profitable.
The manufacturing industry is fresh meat for the RaaS market to expand into, largely due to the maintenance issues highlighted above. The technology required in a factory setting is readily available, however, it is not always profitable for a manufacturing firm to invest in this technology due to its long returns.
Companies such as HireRobotics are creating one-size-fits-all automated manufacturing solutions that can be leased by manufacturing companies at an hourly rate with no long-term investments. This is extremely cost-effective for manufacturers since automated manufacturing is pricy to buy and even pricier to maintain.
The advent of drone technology and autonomous vehicles has rendered the delivery industry ripe for automation. However, most delivery companies that can be automated (for example restaurant delivery), do not have the investment required to automate.
RaaS start-up companies such as Udelv and Kiwibot are paving the way for affordable and ready to use autonomous vehicles that can be used for delivery by small businesses such as restaurants, grocery stores, and other local vendors. This form of delivery is very cost-effective since these star-ups offer their robotic services for $4-6 per delivery.
This service can be extended so far to enable the users to buy from these grocery stores and restaurants right from the app itself. This can be invaluable to small local vendors particularly in the post-COVID era where every business strives to be as touchless as possible.
Automation in the agricultural industry, particularly Drone technology, has been around for quite some time, however, it has been inaccessible to most farmers due to its costs. Companies such as GreenSight are providing service robots to farms big and small to make the technology more accessible.
RaaS models are even more efficient in the agriculture industry because these robots are only required during the farming season and their maintenance during the off-season is entirely redundant. This is why companies like GreenSight work on a seasonal basis, providing seasonal contracts to farms based on their crop.