Media & Blog

RBR | OhmniLabs Touts Robots-as-a-Service Plan for Speedier Development

Monday May 20, 2019

Companies looking to create robots often get bogged down in the challenges of robotics development, and pressures from investors to scale up and get to market quickly often prevent them from looking at other functionality options and other approaches that could help them find new markets. Silicon Valley robotics firm OhmniLabs hopes to change this approach by offering a new robots-as-a-service offering to assist companies with speedier and more flexible robotics component development. The company also named Dr. James Kuffner, CEO at the Toyota Research Institute – Advanced Development (TRI-AD) to its advisory board.

As part of its commitment to accelerating the robotic development process, OhmniLabs aims to leverage its fifth-generation additive manufacturing process and modular robotics hardware and software stack with partners around the world bringing robots to market in record time, the company said. The new Robots-as-a-Service (Raas) offering lets partners focus on market, customers, and sales, while OhmniLabs provides the end-to-end robotics, technology, and production components. Japan’s Toppan Merrill LLC, a global provider of integrated solutions in the fields of printing, communications, security, packaging, décor materials and electronics, is one of the launch partners, the company said.

“We see the true explosion of robotics coming from close partnerships between established companies who deeply understand their market and have mature marketing and sales channels and robotics companies like OhmniLabs, who can bring robots to reality in record time and at record cost,” said Jared Go, a co-founder of OhmniLabs. “This enables our customers to be innovative, rather than conservative. They now have the freedom to quickly iterate and test ideas without requiring a massive budget, and the corresponding risk.”

Go said the company would continue to sell its flagship Ohmni telepresence robot and development platforms directly, growing both sides of the business and taking advantages of synergies between them. “For example, many of our RaaS customers started out buying and testing their ideas on our development platforms,” he said. But for customers looking for customized option, OhmniLabs estimates that they can provide a 10x reduction in the robot development cost, time, and risk.

The RaaS model was developed after customers began asking OhmniLabs about customized options, Go said. For example, customers would ask questions like:

  • Could they have a larger wheelbase for outdoor use?
  • Could they add lights for inspection in dark factory areas?
  • Could they have a super-high resolution camera for inspecting wounds?
  • Could they autonomously photograph and survey a site?

“No typical product-centric robotics company would ever say yes, because it’s such a pain for them to make changes to the product,” said Go. “But we were in a position to try saying yes to some of these requests because of how little it costs us to produce and scale these custom changes – thanks to our ultra-lean additive manufacturing technology. Customers loved the changes and that incremental work we did to tailor-fit their use case added a ton of value, which they were more than happy to pay for!”

He added the company realized that off-the-shelf robots provide about 95% of the required functionality, but without the ability to customized, most companies were throwing it away and starting from scratch. “The best way, instead, is to make closing that 5% functionality gap a scalable business, and that’s where all the real value lies,” Go said.

This article was originally published by Keith Shaw at Robotics Business Review.  To read the full article on their website, please click the button below.


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