Autonomous Mobile Robots – The New Trend in Robotic Deployments across Industries

October 26, 2023
Enterprise Tech and Services
Blogs

Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are widely recognized as the future of industrial automation and transformation in various industries. One of the most complex and inefficient tasks in the manufacturing and warehousing industry is the transportation of parts and materials to assembly lines and between manufacturing cells, often causing production bottlenecks. The implementation of autonomous production logistics, enabled by AMRs, has the potential to significantly reduce costs and improve operational efficiency throughout a manufacturing plant.

AMRs: Redefining Industrial Automation with Autonomous Mobile Robots

AMRs, unlike their predecessors, autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs), have the ability to independently understand and navigate through their environment. While AGVs rely on tracks or predefined paths and often require operator oversight, AMRs utilize a sophisticated set of sensors, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and computing for path planning. They are able to interpret and navigate through their environment without being constrained by wired power. Equipped with cameras and sensors, AMRs can effectively respond to unexpected obstacles in their path, such as fallen boxes or crowds of people, using techniques like collision avoidance to adjust their course of action.

AMRs by Functions

Market Growth, Trends, and Industry Disruption

The global market for AMRs in manufacturing is expected to grow at a rate of approximately 30% per year between 2022 to 2027, reaching an estimated market size of $6.2 billion by 2027. In addition to manufacturing companies, the online retail sector is rapidly adopting robotics. Amazon Robotics, for example, has already deployed over 520,000 robotic drive units across its fulfillment and sort centers. Other e-commerce giants are following suit, with approximately one-third of all Walmart stores expected to be serviced by automated distribution centers by the end of 2023, and that number expected to increase to 65% within three years.

Companies that have deployed Autonomous Mobile Robots

Few Key Players Operating in the AMR Space – Globally and in India

Funding Activity Across AMR Companies - China AMR Market Defies Funding Winter

While warehouse automation as an industry has received multi-billion-dollar funding, the market for AMRs is still highly fragmented.

There are several well-funded players such as the likes of Grey Orange and Locus Robotics which have raised north of $800 Mn, and the industry also has newer players such as Unbox Robotics and ATI Motors which are also innovating in this segment.

Key Deals Globally

• Locus Robotics raises $117 Mn for autonomous mobile robots

• AMR Provider ForwardX Robotics Closes Out $61 Mn in Round C Funding

• EU Startup Remora Robotics raises Euros 2.5 Mn

• OTTO Motors raised $29 Mn to take its autonomous mobiles global

Key Deals China

• According to publicly available data compiled by China Mobile Robot and AGV/AMR Industry Alliance, 38 mobile robot startups raised billions of yuan in the first half of this year from a variety of top venture capital firms including IDG Capital, Sequoia China, GL Ventures Zhen Fund, Capital Today, and Source Code Capital. It is worth noting that some of these startups have raised 10 million yuan or more in their Pre-A or Seed round of funding. Companies like Forwardx raised more than $100 Mn. The Made In China 2025 vision has contributed largely to this autonomous development funding trend.

Key Deals India

• Addverb India has raised $132 Mn from Reliance Retail in their Series-B round (strategic partnership)

• Ati Motors Secures $10.85 Mn in Series A Funding in India

• Unbox Robotics raised $7 Mn in Series A while

• Others have raised below $1 Mn in this space

Use Cases - Potential Deployments of AMRs

Key industries that can benefit from the adoption of AMRs include manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics; healthcare; retail, banking, and hospitality; smart cities and the public sector; and agriculture. These industries stand to experience significant improvements in productivity and efficiency through the implementation of AMRs.

Other sectors, such as the food and beverage industry, the automotive industry, and pharmaceutical companies, are also embracing robotics to improve their operations. The food and beverage industry relies on the speed and accuracy of handling perishable items, while the automotive industry has been automating various aspects of its operations beyond assembly lines. Pharmaceutical companies require precise tracking of their supply chain to meet stringent standards, and robots are increasingly assisting in meeting these requirements.

Trends Driving the Industry Globally

Efficiency and Productivity: AMRs enhance efficiency and productivity by working continuously, optimizing workflows, and reducing operational downtime, particularly in manufacturing and warehousing.

Labor Solutions and Cost Savings: AMRs address labor shortages by handling repetitive tasks, allowing human workers to focus on more complex roles, and reducing operational costs by improving accuracy and decreasing the need for manual labor.

Flexibility and Versatility: AMRs are adaptable to dynamic environments, driven by technological advancements, with applications in various industries, contributing to improved safety and sustainability efforts while supporting supply chain resilience.

India – Key Factors Aiding Growth

Economic Growth: India has experienced consistent economic growth over the years, making it an attractive destination for investment. The government has also introduced economic reforms and policies to encourage manufacturing and investment in the country. The Indian economy will grow at average real GDP growth of 6% from 2022-2030 as per IMF reports. This will be led by manufacturing and Infrastructure.

Global Supply Chain Diversification: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the risks of over-reliance on a single source for manufacturing and supply chain operations. Companies are diversifying their supply chains by establishing manufacturing and warehousing facilities in India, enhancing resilience and reducing supply chain vulnerabilities. India is becoming a hub for technology and innovation, attracting companies looking to incorporate advanced technologies into their manufacturing and warehousing operations, including robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence.

Improving Infrastructure: The development of infrastructure, including transportation networks, logistics, and industrial zones, has made it easier for companies to set up manufacturing and warehousing facilities. These improvements have reduced logistical bottlenecks.

Government Initiatives: The Indian government's "Make in India" initiative is designed to promote manufacturing, attract foreign direct investment (FDI), and improve the ease of doing business in the country. Various incentives and policy changes have been introduced to support manufacturing growth. China+ 1 strategy, 2047 Development goal of India becoming a developed nation, etc are other major initiatives expected to drive the growth of these sectors that deploy AMRs.

In conclusion, the utilization of AMRs can potentially revolutionize the industrial automation landscape across various industries. With their ability to navigate autonomously, interpret their environment, and respond to obstacles, AMRs offer significant cost reductions and operational efficiencies. The market for AMRs is expected to continue growing, driven by the increasing adoption of robotics in manufacturing, warehousing, healthcare, retail, smart cities, and agriculture.

How Merisis can help - Contact Us

The Enterprise practice is focused on delivering high-impact solutions to drive the growth agenda of companies in the fast-changing technology sector. We leverage our extensive knowledge and relationships in this sector to provide customized capital raising and strategic M&A advice to our corporate clients. Our endeavor is to always deliver a superior customer experience based on trust and partnership. Read more

Write to us on enterprise@merisis.in

AUTHORS

Sakshi Singh

Associate - Enterprise Tech & Services

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