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Robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) is an elastic concept and can mean different things. It refers more broadly to robotics providers that do not simply sell their products, but rather rent or lease their products with solutions to customers as a full service. Though the robotics market continues to grow, ongoing pressure on robotics vendors to maintain margin means that they are looking to widen market opportunities beyond just selling robots as products. In a recent report, ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies, highlights the potential of RaaS in unlocking the next phase of market development in robotics.
Overall, ABI Research estimates that the installed base for RaaS will grow from 4,442 units in 2016 to 1.3 million in 2026. The yearly revenue from RaaS providers is expected to increase from US$217 million in 2016 to nearly US$34 billion in 2026. “This will make the yearly revenue of RaaS providers (including all payments for services) greater than the shipment revenues for industrial robots, which currently accounts for the lion’s share of the robotics industry in terms of revenue,” explained Rian Whitton, Research Analyst at ABI Research.
The RaaS installed base over 10 years between 2016 and 2026 is characterized by a very large CAGR of 66%. This is particularly prevalent in the markets with the largest RaaS installed base, namely logistics, manufacturing, and hospitality, over the 10-year forecast.
The biggest benefit of RaaS is that end users can now shift their capital expenditure (CAPEX) to an operational expenditure (OPEX), allowing them to deploy solutions without large upfront costs. RaaS providers, in turn, benefit from a steady stream of income. The benefits of RaaS are undeniable for end users and providers alike, and ABI Research forecasts that it will become much more popular in a very short space of time.
However, to achieve the aforementioned CAGR, robotics providers must introduce this model and start to educate the market on the benefits of migrating to an OPEX model instead of a CAPEX-driven model. Companies such as Aethon, Locus Robotics, Savioke, and Sarcos Robotics are offering a RaaS model for their enterprise clients. This model creates a lower barrier to adoption as well as provides an opportunity for robotics suppliers to establish a long-term service relationship with their end users, with more flexibility, scalability, and upgradeability in mind.
Logistics is currently the biggest market, but there are plenty of potentials across various verticals. “RaaS is the next phase of market development, opening robotics up to new markets. Manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare are not the only markets to benefit from RaaS. Robotics-as-a-service will bring robotics to new sectors that have not previously had significant robotic adoption, such as agriculture, security & surveillance, retail, hospitality, oil & gas, and waste management to name just a few,” concluded Whitton.