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Friday, August 21, 2020

Mobile Robotics Growth Opportunity for Cloud Providers

As we look to the future, more robots are likely to appear in the typical workplace. These robots will perform repetitive tasks that were once performed by humans. This automation promises to improve productivity significantly. In some cases, robots will also augment human capabilities.

With the popularization of mobile robotics in a wide range of industries, more organizations will store the collected data from these robots in public cloud services, and then use that data to train more advanced AI algorithms that enable robot cognition.

According to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research, the robot-related services powered by cloud computing will reach $157.8 billion in annual revenue by 2030.

Mobile Robotics Market Development

"Since 1961, most commercial robots have been wired or tied to external infrastructure for movement. The next generation of robot deployments will be increasingly mobile, tied to cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity, will consume vast troves of data in order to operate autonomously, and will need effective management through real-time measurements for performance, status and operability," said Rian Whitton, senior analyst at ABI Research.

Several hyperscale cloud service providers -- including AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud -- have begun collaborating with robotics developers, while start-ups like InOrbit target cloud-enabled operations for the first major deployment of mobile service robots.

The journey of the robot industry from one of individual vehicles and units, to fleets and larger systems, is being driven by its wider incorporation into the internet of things (IoT) ecosystem.

However, ABI believes that it would be a mistake to suggest robots will simply fit in with devices, individual sensors, and stationary machines as part of the wider IoT ecosystem.

Robots are increasingly sophisticated systems themselves, with multiple sensors and highly advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and/or Machine Learning (ML) competencies. They're also expected to move around and act within the world, generating huge amounts of data relative to other machines.

"To suggest the cloud alone can provide the computing power to operate these machines is naïve, especially during the slow transition to 5G. Onlookers should instead conceive of adaptable edge-cloud systems that focus on quality over quantity when it comes to robotics operation, data processing, and analysis," Whitton adds.

The cloud robotics opportunity, defined as Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) revenue for robotics operations combined, will grow from $3.3 billion in 2019 to $157.8 billion in 2030, accounting for 30 percent of the robotic industry’s total worth.

On its own, this represents a huge opportunity for start-ups, many of which are beginning to expand on their mission to enable developers to accelerate their go-to-market strategy and to help end-users and operators’ access and manage the ever-increasing fleets of robots.

This new robotics ecosystem will be dominated by three subcategories of companies, namely robot developers that move up the value chain and become solution providers, third-party IoT and cloud platform providers focused on best-in-class software solutions, and Cloud Service Providers (CSPs).

Those focusing strictly on hardware will lose relative worth and will require partnerships or bold strategies to become solution providers. This can be exemplified by companies like Universal Robots and Fetch Robotics, which have incorporated software and maintenance services into their offering.

"The market is incredibly nascent at present. ABI Research expects consolidation with the most successful robot solution providers and the CSPs expanding their relative influence on the market to take place within the next decade," says Whitton.

Outlook for Cloud Robotics Applications Growth

According to the ABI assessment, the cloud robotics technology is split between vertical innovations, such as developing superior navigation systems, which increase the possibility of what robots can do, and horizontal innovations that expand access and scalability.

"Cloud computing represents the most important horizontal innovation for the robotics industry, to date, and will further enable vertical innovations like swarm-based intelligence, autonomous mobility, and advanced manipulation to be deployed at scale," Whitton concludes.

Due to security and regulatory compliance requirements, I believe that there will also be opportunities for the selective storage of robot data within on-premises IT data centers. Object storage technology can provide reliable and cost-effective solutions to the challenge of capturing and retrieving robotics data for analytics applications.