The maturity of robotics software and hardware means every year we can now solve new use cases, faster, with significantly less cost and R&D. Algorithms to understand and navigate the world autonomously along with the hardware and sensors to realise this vision, are no longer just available to deep research projects with huge budgets, but accessible to any mechatronics engineer working in the robotics field. Because of this, the race is on to build and sell a robust product, capture market share as fast as possible, and win in the robotics industry.
What are the factors that will make one robotics company more successful than another? If we look at adjacent industries, how did companies like Instagram sell to Facebook for over $1B, 18 months after launch and do it with only 13 employees! Is that even possible in the robotics industry?
We don’t have to guess, there’s a pattern in these startups that gives us a proven roadmap for success.
Mobile app companies had small teams that focused on the specific problem they wanted to solve. They leveraged off-the-shelf technology where it wasn’t core to their differentiation. Instagram used AWS for their computer, they used technologies like PostgreSQL and Redis for storage and caching - it seems obvious now that they didn’t need to rebuild this technology when it already existed. They focussed on getting as much reliable technology off the shelf as they could and focussed on what was unique to their business.
So why are robotics companies still trying to build some of the basics themselves - like teleoperation, remote access, low latency video, and visualization? One possible answer is because this tooling hasn’t been available in a reliable way - until now. Teams like Uber’s driverless car program were early pioneers, they had to build everything from the ground up at great expense, because it didn’t exist. This is no longer the case.
When we founded Rocos, we were obsessed about helping this new age of mobile robotics companies solve this exact problem - a reliable backend of the common cloud features across robotics companies. We wanted to help accelerate the mobile robotics industry that still didn’t have reliable, easy to use cloud tooling available off the shelf. We’ve built a team of robotics fanatics and a robust, scalable Robot Operations Platform to pave the way for robotics companies to be able rapidly build out MVPs as well as scale their production solutions rapidly and efficiently, removing barriers like fighting the basics of security, connectivity and scalability.
The fastest-moving robotics startups are now getting off-the-shelf hardware, often using an entire base unit that can navigate out of the box. They also evaluate and use reliable open-source solutions for the onboard software as far as possible. They focus on solving a unique use case and build the specific systems which often involve machine learning or AI and some modifications to the hardware. They leverage off-the-shelf backend technology from companies like Rocos, that gets them going in a day, rather than spend a year of internal investment, by which stage, their competitors have left them behind. Speed is of the essence.
To sum it up, to elevate your robotics company above your competition:
- Spend your energy on the thing that makes you different and solves the unique problem you’re focused on - do not rebuild what already exists. This ensures you can quickly iterate on your product and get to product market fit faster.
- Don’t underestimate the depth of technologies that are already in the market. They often look simple on the surface but trying to replicate something yourself often leads to a dead end and a huge amount of wasted time and money.
- Be able to scale efficiently and quickly. Don’t let reliability, security and operational cost kill you along the way.
- And importantly, try before you buy. Sign up for a trial early to integrate and test the technology.