The manufacturing industry continues to be the hottest market for companies offering their systems through a robotics-as-a-service, or RaaS, model. That was one of the key takeaways from Formant's “2023 State of RaaS Report” it released today.
For the report, the robot operations company surveyed more than 300 robotics professionals around the globe to gauge how widely adopted the RaaS model has become.
“A majority of the survey respondents work at RaaS companies, but we also received responses from professionals that work at non-RaaS robotics companies, as well as integrators,” a spokesperson for the company told Robotics 24/7.
Robot makers have touted RaaS as a cost-saving and risk-management tool. With the service model, customers can deploy robots in their facilities without having to buy these systems outright.
“At Formant, we work with scaling RaaS companies every day and we care deeply about the state of the RaaS market,” Jeff Linnell, CEO of Formant, said in a statement. “The robotics industry is still incredibly under-resourced when it comes to purpose-built tools, educational content, and community organization. Therefore, we’re excited to bring the results collected from our research to shed light on how other RaaS companies are scaling effectively, and the resources they’re using to do so.”
RaaS companies still have room to grow
Eighty-five percent of the respondents said they had fewer than 100 robots deployed, and 45% had less than 10 deployed.
On average, customers working in manufacturing have the largest fleets of robots, with 434 being the average size. The next largest is warehousing and logistics space, with customers having an average fleet size of 412, the report found.
Customers working in healthcare, agriculture, and hospitality have the smallest fleets, with average sizes of 69, 54, and 31, respectively.
Biggest challenges facing RaaS
Fifty percent of the respondents that have 1,000 robots deployed noted that their biggest challenge is bringing in new customers, Formant noted.
Another major concern is funding. Twenty percent of robot companies that have deployed 11 to 50 robots said funding has been a challenge.
“Although the RaaS industry has gained traction over the last 3-5 years, there are significant hurdles that the industry faces,” Formant said in the report. “These include fundraising, the cost of development (both hardware and software), and resistance to adoption of robots in more 'low-tech' industries such as agriculture or construction.”
ROS and simulation popular
The vast majority of companies surveyed take advantage of the open-source Robot Operating System (ROS). Formant reported that 81% of those surveyed are using it. NIVDIA's Isaac Sim is the most popular simulation software, the company said.
On the hardware front, 80% of those surveyed said they use custom hardware. Sixty-one percent said that at least 50% of their hardware is custom. Six percent said they use off-the-shelf parts.
While RaaS companies have plenty of hurdles to overcome, more than half of them still are bullish on the model. Fifty-fix percent of those surveyed said they have a “very positive outlook for the RaaS market.” Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed said they plan to fundraise within the next year.
“One of the biggest takeaways from our survey data is that the RaaS industry is still very much in its infancy,” Formant said in the report. “With small average fleet sizes and minimal traction in emerging industries, companies in the robots-as-a-service space have only begun to scratch the surface of addressing common challenges with robots.”
For the full report, check out Formant's website.
About the Author
Cesareo Contreras was associate editor at Robotics 24/7. Prior to working at Peerless Media, he was an award-winning reporter at the Metrowest Daily News and Milford Daily News in Massachusetts. Contreras is a graduate of Framingham State University and has a keen interest in the human side of emerging technologies.
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