Kshitij Tiwari Ph.D.

Everything you need to know about renting robots

6 min read

Robots are becoming increasingly common and people are rapidly integrating them into their lives for an array of different applications. From customizable home AI systems like Alexa to collaborative industrial robots, robots offer an exciting array of solutions.

However, for many people, buying a robot is not an option. There are upfront costs associated with robot ownership, and some robots require a significant amount of maintenance and upkeep, making them expensive to own in the long run. Fortunately, there is an alternative to outright robot ownership – renting a robot.

This business model is often termed as Robot as a Service (RaaS) wherein the service provider offers monthly, quarterly or annual rentals with technical support.

But, what should you consider when deciding whether renting a robot is really worth it? This article covers possible scenarios in which renting a robot would make more sense for your use case. Additionally, the often less addressed aspect- the limitations of robotic rentals are also considered.

Commercial robots are expensive

Buying a commercial-grade robot can be a significant investment, with prices ranging from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Not only do you have to pay for the robot, but you also need to factor in installation costs, software development costs, and any additional hardware and components that are needed. In addition, you have to consider the cost of ongoing maintenance and repairs, as well as any applicable licensing fees.

DIY robot kits may not suffice

For DIY enthusiasts, building a robot from a kit is an appealing idea. However, most of these kits are not designed for use in professional settings. They may lack the necessary features or have limited functionality, making them unsuitable for many applications. Additionally, the amount of time and effort required to put the kit together can be significant.

Benefits of renting a robot

Renting robots has a number of advantages that can make it a great alternative to outright ownership.

  • Cost-effectiveness: By renting a robot, you don’t need to worry about investing a large amount of money up front, and you can access the most up-to-date technologies without needing to invest in expensive, outdated equipment.

  • Flexibility: Renting a robot allows you to access the exact capabilities you need for a specific task, without needing to invest in a more expensive, all-in-one solution.

  • Customizability: Many robot rental companies offer customization options so you can tailor the robot to your exact needs.

  • Convenience: You don’t need to worry about additional storage and setup for a robot you rent. The rental company will deliver and install the robot quickly and easily.

  • On-demand access: Need a robot for a one-time job? Rent it for the day or even just a few hours, without needing to make any long-term commitments.

  • Resource light: You don’t need to expend extra resources on staffing and training for a robot you rent. The rental company will handle all of the necessary tasks for you.

Limitations of renting a robot

Renting robots can be a great solution for many applications, but there are still a few limitations to consider.

  • Availability: The availability and selection of rental robots can vary significantly depending on your location.

  • Cost: Depending on the type of robot you need and the duration of the rental, the cost can add up quickly.

  • Security: In some cases, renting a robot can leave your systems vulnerable to attack from malicious third-party sources.

  • Functionality: Not all robot platforms may be available for rent. For instance, you may wish to rent out a drone but the robot rental provider may only be offering a ground robot (typically Turtlebot) or a humanoid.

    Similarly, the test facilities to deploy your algorithms might also be limited as the purpose of these robot rental providers is to cater to a larger audience as opposed to niche research ideas.

Factors to consider before renting a robot

Renting a robot is a great option for many people, but there are some important factors to consider before making the decision to rent.

  • Cost: Depending on the robot and the rental period, the cost of renting a robot can quickly add up. It’s important to do your research and make sure you understand how much the rental will cost and what is included in the fee.

  • Usability: Some robots can be difficult to use, even if they are available to rent. Make sure you understand what will be required to use the robot effectively so you don’t end up wasting money on a product that is more complicated than you need.

  • Maintenance: Robot maintenance is often included with the cost of the rental, but it’s still important to make sure you know what type of maintenance is expected (and what costs are associated with it).

Key takeaways

When it comes to robots, buying is not always the best option. Renting a robot offers a range of advantages, from cost-effectiveness to customizability. However, it’s important to understand the factors that go into making the decision to rent a robot.

By doing your research and understanding the potential costs and complications associated with renting a robot, you can make sure you get the perfect solution for your needs without breaking the bank.

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