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The use of intelligent robotic systems is becoming increasingly prevalent in many industries, from healthcare and manufacturing to hospitality and retail. As the adoption of robotics and automation increases, companies recognize the advantages of implementation. However, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) can be costly and time-consuming to design, build, and deploy. Additionally, because AMRs are often used to augment or replace jobs performed by humans that typically pay lower wages, it can take years before some companies will see a return on investment.
Robots as a Service (RaaS) provides an ideal solution for businesses looking to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks. RaaS offers businesses a cost-effective, scalable solution that provides cloud-based AMRs as labor expansion and support as part of a rental or subscription-based service. This service is executed through a contractual service level agreement, or SLA, which is established practice in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) enterprises. RaaS providers handle all of the programming and customization of the robots and also train their customers how to use them. This business model makes it convenient and affordable for companies to acquire and deploy AMRs in their operations seamlessly and immediately.
RaaS is growing in popularity because its business model expands the technology’s accessibility, putting it within reach of businesses large and small. As a result, using robots in the workplace to increase productivity, improve accuracy and reliability, reduce labor costs, and provide more efficient customer service is achievable with RaaS for just about any organization.
AI integration, cloud-connected robots, and the launch of robotics development platforms have led to the evolution of the RaaS business model.
RaaS software leverages various technologies that enable robots to perform their tasks autonomously. These technologies include motion control and sensors, 3D mapping, computer vision, and artificial intelligence.
Motion control allows robots to navigate and avoid obstacles in their environment, while sensors are used to detect objects and allow the robot to respond appropriately. 3D mapping technology uses lasers or cameras to build a 3D representation of an environment. It allows robots to build an understanding of their surroundings to better interact with them and plan their movements accordingly. Computer vision allows robots to recognize objects in their environment using image recognition algorithms. This enables them to pick up specific objects or interact with people based on visual cues such as facial expressions or body language.
Due to the complexity of the design and development of AMRs, partnering with skilled software developers is essential as they play an important role in helping the RaaS provider succeed. Expert-level developers can help secure the RaaS platform against threats, as well as assist with front-end and back-end design, development, and maintenance. They can engineer custom applications and integrations that enable RaaS providers to offer their services quickly and easily. Working with experienced software developers ensures that the RaaS provider can provide an end-user experience that is seamless, secure, and efficient.
Historically, AMR manufacturers and robotic service providers (RSPs) developed new products to meet market demand and sold them to customers as a capital asset purchase. In this type of business model, customers purchase and own their equipment and are responsible for its maintenance, repair, and disposal at the end of its useful life.
The RaaS business model can present new challenges for manufacturers and RSPs that were not present before. A subscription-based model means that RSPs sell a complete service, not a product. This service allows the customer to ramp up usage during peak periods and decrease usage during slow periods, with their cost being based on consumption.
In service-oriented business models like this one, providers need to consider critical factors when planning the design of AMRs, as all costs to repair and maintain the robots remain the provider’s responsibility. Therefore, factors such as Mean-Time-to-Repair (MTTR) and Mean-Time-Between-Repair (MTBR) must be evaluated and included in the design approach of the AMR. Design objectives must prioritize maximizing the robot’s life while minimizing costs to repair out in the field, which can be achieved by investing in higher-quality components. The design must also comprise supportability and optimize performance to extend the MTBR and minimize operational costs over time.
Remote monitoring and remote system access are also necessary system requirements that are vital to the success of a RaaS solution. Remote monitoring allows providers to learn when a robot needs maintenance or has stopped functioning correctly in real-time. Remote system access allows the RaaS team to remotely diagnose the problem and get the robot back up and running quickly to maintain SLA compliance. Ensuring the equipment stays operational is paramount and may require team augmentation. Skilled software developers can create tools that enable remote monitoring and control of the robots, allowing for greater flexibility in how they are used. By leveraging their extensive expertise, software developers can help RaaS providers engineer robust robots that are more powerful and capable than ever before.
Additionally, according to ABI research, growth projections have RaaS installations reaching 1.3 million by 2026 and generating $34 billion in revenue for RaaS providers. While this is promising news for RaaS providers, the projected surge in demand means that they must be prepared by hiring the right resources to fortify their teams to build their RaaS solutions. Doing this will prevent unforeseen roadblocks and ensure successful and timely deployments that meet industry demand and increase the RaaS provider’s market share.
RaaS is an increasingly popular business model that allows businesses of all sizes and industries to incorporate innovative robotic solutions. Software developers play a key role in helping RaaS providers by creating applications that are tailored to the specific needs of their end-user clients. These applications can help automate processes, increase efficiency, and improve the user experience. Partnering with an expert-level software development team can pave the way to success for RSPs in the growing RaaS market.
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