Strong market growth saw the installed base of service robots reach 29.6 million worldwide at the close of 2016. According to new research from Berg Insight, the trend is set to continue for years to come.
The service robots market, as defined by Berg analysts, is comprised of three main segments, the largest being floor cleaning robots, which claimed 80 percent of last year’s total (an estimated 23.8 million units). The UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] and robot lawn mower sectors are the next largest, with install bases of around 4.0 million and 1.6 million units, respectively.
The historically manual nature of agriculture, as well as the potential for big data analysis to increase yields, makes it fertile ground for increased automation. There are thought to be 100,000 AGVs [automated guided vehicles] in use in the industry and milking robots now number over 50,000.
Robots on the rise
Growing adoption and advancements in robotics are predicted to see the market grow to 264.3 million active service units worldwide by 2026, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24 percent. The current trajectory is largely due to the vision of successful start-ups that are bringing innovative products to market.
However, longer-term players such as Deere Company have shown the willingness and ability to adapt. Husqvarna is currently piloting robot lawnmowers in parks found in seven cities around the world. Many large companies are investing in in-house R&D or acquiring start-ups, recognising the need to move with the market or risk getting left behind.
“Service robots are clearly on the rise in everyday environments. Already today, domestic service robots help individuals in their homes to clean the floors and windows, mow the lawn and water the garden,” says Egil Edvardsen, IoT analyst at Berg Insight.
“In a not-too-distant future, we can expect domestic robots of even higher sophistication and capability, such as assistive robots for supporting the elderly, for helping with additional household chores and for entertainment and education.”
The future of automation
The breadth of application and economic impact of service robots is clear to see – across agriculture, healthcare, logistics, public relations and the tackling of basic day-to-day tasks.
“Robotic exoskeletons help elderly and disabled people to restore body functions and enable them to remain active in society. In hospitals, innovative robots support doctors to perform safer and less invasive surgeries,” says Carl Jonsson of Berg Insight. “Autonomous robots transport goods and parcels in manufacturing plants and logistics centres. Unmanned aerial vehicles can autonomously gather useful data for a variety of industries such as agriculture.”
The next few years will see robotics technology continue to evolve, allowing greater adoption in existing sectors, penetration into new areas and, vitally, improved affordability – a key barrier to entry for many potential customers.