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Robots Are Becoming More Common in Buildings

Young Hoon Kim
Oct 22, 2020

Guidehouse Insights

Before the pandemic, I used to look for the information desk and airline counter at airports when traveling. I remember an unforgettable moment of experiencing artificial assistance when a robot with a big touch screen approached and asked me if I needed any help. Luckily, I was able to find my airline counter easily with the robot’s support. Today, other robots are emerging with new roles such as cleaning Pittsburgh International Airport and assisting with parking. Robot use is growing not only in airports, but also in many other buildings.

Pandemic Leads to Increase in Food Industry Robots

People are generally familiar with robots; however, only a handful of robotic services have been adopted. New business cases are helping mature the robotic services market, and robotic delivery services and pilot tests are flourishing globally. Hotelsapartments, and condominiums are among the many use cases. COVID-19-related impacts like social distancing created a favorable business environment for the robot assistance business and the risk of the virus spreading has led to a drastic upturn of the robot delivery business. Artificial assistance is not limited to delivering food, it also includes serving coffee at cafes and other tasks.

Business Models, Customer Education, and Partnerships Are Key to Market Growth

The food service is only the tip of the iceberg—we might see a real Gundam robot soon. Various robots also help with office cleaning, elevator installation, and more. NAVER LABS has even planned the world’s first robot-friendly smart building; however, many barriers (such as high prices and fear of job loss to a robot) hinder a more active business. Offering better financial options, collaborating with industry players, and educating people will be vital to driving the industry forward.

Customers may be more inclined to adopt artificial assistance using the as a service and rental business model. Such financing options can reduce customer burdens of high upfront costs. Somatic, which provides bathroom cleaning robots, offers a monthly rental after a trial phase.

Partnerships between startups and major industry players can help develop cheaper and more innovative technology. One example of a successful partnership is the investment from Meituan, a Chinese retail service company, into Pudu Robotics, a startup developing a food delivery robot.

Alleviating fear of robotic service is crucial to the future of the commercial robot business. Educating people about how robots will provide better opportunities to enhance industries is essential to maintaining the business of robot service.