San Francisco based ViaBot announces today that they are officially launching the company and the ViaBot RUNO autonomous mobile robot. In addition, the company made the announcement that they have pulled together $6.1 million in funding by Baseline Ventures, Morado Ventures, and Grit Ventures and partnered with SOSV. ViaBot disclosed a key strategic partnership with Cushman & Wakefield which has deployed ViaBot’s RUNO robots to properties in the Bay Area for sweeping and security services.
Security and sweeping for commercial properties
The value proposition for ViaBot is that RUNO can patrol the parking lots and the perimeter of a commercial property. RUNO provides remote imaging of vehicles in the parking lot and can be the “remote eyes” of your security team. While the AMR is on a patrol, it can also autonomously sweep the parking lot and walking paths throughout a corporate campus. RUNO can then autonomously dump debris and return to its patrol circuit. RUNO can operate autonomous day or night. In fact, the best time to sweep the parking lot may be in the middle of the night when there are no vehicles on site.
RUNO is targeted at commercial properties owners and commercial property managers. Commercial building upkeep includes a variety of tasks, and sweeping the parking lot is one of the “dull and dirty” tasks that can now be successfully executed by an autonomous robot. The ViaBot solution is an industrialized sweeper solution that can remain outside 365 days a year to keep your extended facility clean.
Robots as a service makes the ViaBot solution affordable
“We’re excited to announce our public launch to scale our Robots-as-a-Service for property management,” said Gregg Ratanaphanyarat, CEO and Co-founder of ViaBot. “We founded ViaBot with a mission to address the dirty, dull and dangerous jobs of outdoor work, and we’re thrilled that our multifunctional robots are offering better solutions to the challenges facing property managers today.”
ViaBot, headquartered in San Francisco, was founded by Gregg Ratanaphanyarat and Andre Ding in 2016, while both were undergraduate students at Penn State. They observed that outdoor maintenance for consumers and commercial property managers alike was a yearlong problem — one that would seemingly be ideally suited to robotics. Many property management companies report accountability and cost challenges, labor shortages, and a need for digitization — dynamics that have only accelerated throughout the pandemic, as office parks sat empty.
Robots as a service (RaaS) is emerging as one of the easiest ways for customers to justify and afford a robotic-based automation solution. In this case, a property owner can contract with ViaBot to deploy a RUNO sweeper onsite without having to outlay the cash to buy it. The RaaS service provided by ViaBot includes the robot, the robot setup and deployment services, remote monitoring, troubleshooting, and service & repair. If anything breaks, repairs are included in the RaaS contract, even if a new machine needs to be deployed. Property owners can sign a shorter term contract to trial the system while they decide if the technology is right for their property, without being locked into a long term capital expense.
Lastly, if you are skeptical about the technology, RaaS reduces the risk in deploying a new solution. ViaBot will be enhancing the intelligence, the operating software and maybe even the hardware in the coming years, so a RaaS relationship ensures that ViaBot can learn from customer deployments and update the solution as needed to improve operations and capabilities. RaaS a win-win for both the vendor and the customer.
If you are a commercial building owner or manager, you know first hand the current economic climate for commercial real estate. Onsite working staff levels are way down during the pandemic as the majority of companies have allowed staff to work remotely. No one can predict when this trend will turn around. It may be that some companies never return to full staff onsite. However, the need remains for building owners and managers to maintain the curb appeal of the site, both as workers return to work OR to attract new tenants. ViaBot offers a unique product and a unique RaaS-based contract that may just fulfill your needs.