April 28, 2020
Building on a collaborative, multi-part series examining the global robotics landscape, Part II of Cowen and Company’s robotics series dives into the fast-growing warehouse/logistics market, which is expected to expand from ~$4B today to over $22B by 2022. Cowen, a full-service growth investment bank, partnered with MassRobotics – a leading, non-profit hub for robotics startups – to carry out a proprietary survey of robotics users and manufacturers and develop a market model for demand based on eCommerce trends that support World Robotics’ growth algorithm.
Investor interest in the broader startup robotics space remains high and is accelerating, though there is a noticeable lack of publicly traded options, at least currently. There is a robust, US-centric private market, however, with Vecna Robotics being named as a key private mobile robot company.
Unlike traditional robotics, which have been around since the 1960s, warehouse/logistics robotics are much earlier in their deployment journey. More recent advances in sensing, mapping, and IIoT technology have made this type of investment more reasonable, and continuing shifts in consumer behavior towards eCommerce is stressing the labor force available to meet demand. These trends essentially ensure market development for robotics technologies, as humans alone will not be sufficient to ensure global fulfillment of goods. Our survey shows good alignment in terms of applications desired by users and currently being developed by manufacturers (pick and place and product movement/handling/delivery), and over 90% of manufacturer respondents either already have a commercially available product or will in less than a year. As the robots themselves become more commonplace, the ability to deploy quickly, minimize downtime, interface with other technologies, and seamlessly integrate with broader warehouse management systems likely determines winners in the space.
The US landscape for this next wave of robotics development is robust and one that will be defined over the years to come. There will be failures, no doubt, but there will be many successful outcomes and we believe an overall buoyancy to the market as this type of technology will essentially be a requirement to handle the needs of an increasingly demanding consumer.
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