Robotics, Automation, and Artificial Intelligence (RAAI) is one of the most compelling investment opportunities of the 21st century. Daily media coverage of intriguing and widely adopted advancements in robotics attracts widespread interest in how these technologies are impacting our daily lives. Yet few investors are aware of the vast scope of RAAI and how its growth is accelerating across the supply chain.
Robotics and automation are already disrupting nearly every industry in every geography, creating a swift transition to an “automate or fail” economy that is dictating the success or failure of corporations large and small. Still in its infancy, this multi-decade technological transition is creating a unique opportunity for today’s forward-thinking investor looking to capture the tremendous growth to come for robotics companies globally.
Inside the World of Robotics
Explore the Fast-Changing Universe of Robotics & Automation
The Investment Universe
To date, we have identified 11 subsectors in the universe of robotics and automation that carry high growth and earnings potential.
The automation of complex business processes drives greater simplicity, productivity, quality, transparency, sustainability, and ultimately greater competitive advantages for companies embracing a digital transformation. Ranging from data analytics and business intelligence to robotics process automation, automation can be applied across business models in all sectors.
Autonomous systems are designed to responsively operate in a dynamic environment with minimal human intervention. This is typically achieved by using sensors to perceive environmental conditions, modeling appropriate responses to changing conditions using planning and control system modulation, and then controlling actuators to interact with the environment.
The logistics and warehouse automation industry is at an inflection point as the boon in e-commerce continues to dramatically raise the bar for supply chain efficiency. From autonomous mobile robots and advanced storage systems to track & trace technologies, logistics automation enables increasingly speedy, safe, and error-free distribution, a shorter time-to-market, and ultimately lower costs to businesses and consumers.
Feeding and sustaining the world continues to be one of our most important economic activities. A new generation of autonomous systems and data analytics tools is bringing the benefits of traditional automation to this domain.
Robotic and autonomous systems must make decisions at various levels, from determining the state of the environment they are operating in to optimally planning actions and controlling motion. This is analogous to the way our brain functions, and it is what allows the processing of information that leads to actuation. Accomplishing this in an autonomous robotics system requires raw computing and processing power, as well as increasingly advanced software.
As healthcare costs continue to rise globally, robotics, automation, and AI is poised to provide a countering force to this trend. Using robotics and autonomous systems in areas including rehabilitation, diagnostics, exoskeletons, and care for the elderly promises to drastically reduce costs and improve the quality of life for many people. In addition, as in all other application areas, robotics and automation can enable new capabilities that transcend cost-cutting.
In order for a system to exhibit autonomy and determine its own internal state, it must be able to sense its environment. For robotic systems, this level of sensing is important for the same reasons that exteroceptive senses (sight, sound, etc.), and proprioceptive senses (ability to know where our limbs are and what they are doing without directly observing them) are important for human beings—they enable us to perceive the world around us.
Actuation is the means by which machines interact with the physical world. For human beings, this mainly refers to our limbs and, in particular, our hands. Machines, however, are not limited to manipulation. Almost anything that has an effect on the physical world can be made into an actuator. Actuation techniques include electric, hydraulic (compressed fluid), mechanical, and pneumatic (compressed air).
Robotics and automated systems are made up of many components (sensors, actuators, and computational units), which can be distributed over large spaces. Integration consists of architecting a system to determine how components work together to achieve a defined objective in a robust, high-performance, and cost-efficient way.
Traditionally, things are built either by assembling separate parts together or by removing material from a larger workpiece. 3D printing (also called “additive manufacturing”) is another way of building by depositing different types of materials. One of the primary benefits of 3D printing is the potential for customization that is not economically feasible with traditional techniques.
Factory automation is an increasingly critical success factor in manufacturing as businesses pursue higher productivity and lower costs in the face of global competition. Automation also means workplace safety, as well as freeing workers from tedious manual labor to focus on strategic, high-level tasks that require human expertise.