The robotics market was valued at USD 23.67 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 74 billion by 2026 and grow at a CAGR of 20.4% over the forecast period (2021-2026). The market is experiencing a significant transformation, with robots growing beyond the workhorses of industrial shop floors and beginning to adopt the roles of personal assistants, surgical assistants, delivery vehicles, autonomous vehicles, exoskeletons, and crewless aerial vehicles, among many other uses. In the past decade, industrial robots used to be high priced, due to which, the ROI is expected to be achieved after a decade. However, presently, smaller collaborative robots are priced for companies to receive ROI in months instead of decades, often costing around USD 20,000. Declining sensor prices and increasing adoption have further aided lower costs.
- Technological innovations, concerning cognition, interaction, and manipulation, have made robotics more appealing. Technology and other component providers have been instrumental in moving the robotics ecosystem forward. In December 2019, Soft Robotics announced a strategic partnership with Fanuc, which invested in Soft Robotics as startup raised USD 23 million in oversubscribed funding round. Soft Robotics' disruptive mGrip modular gripper system and automation solutions have enabled the successful implementation of robotic applications in the highly variable and unstructured environments of consumer goods manufacturing, food processing and packaging, and e-commerce supply chain automation.
- The automotive industry, which is considered to be the most critical application sector of industrial robots, significantly increased investments in industrial robots worldwide. In April 2020, BMW AG has signed an agreement with KUKA for the supply of around 5,000 robots destined for new production lines and factories around the world. According to KUKA, industrial robots will be used around the world at the BMW Group's international production sites for the manufacture of the current and future vehicle models. The various robot models are expected to be used primarily in body-in-white production and other technologies. The scope of the agreement also includes other innovative products from the KUKA portfolio, such as its linear units, used to increase the workspace of the robot, and energy supply technology.
- In the modern manufacturing sector, there are a few main ways in which AI is deployed, along with robotics. Using AI's subset Machine Learning (ML), a system is designed where the device learns from its mistakes and automatically compensates for errors as it works. The combination of such technologies has the potential to make lives a lot easier. People could monitor the performance of robots as opposed to manually performing tasks themselves. The downside of this would be that the labor demand for any industry that utilizes these robots will be far less. In CES 2020, Samsung unveiled a bot chef who is capable of making people a salad on their command. Also, Delta Airlines showcased an exoskeleton that can boost the strength and endurance of the human body.
- The global battle against COVID-19 has seen technology play a crucial role in assisting humans in containing the spread of the virus and dealing with the existing cases. One of the critical technologies that have made an enormous difference on the ground is robotics. A large number of hospitals worldwide are currently using robots to aid both the healthcare staff and patients. Robots have the potential to be deployed for disinfection, delivering medications and food, measuring vital signs, and assisting border controls. In China, Disinfection Robot UVD was in high demand since the outbreak of the pandemic. Many hospitals in the country have been ordering the robot, which is manufactured by Denmark's Blue Ocean Robotics. These robots have played a key role in controlling the virus in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus.
Key Market Trends
Service Robotics is Expected to Register Fastest Growth
- Factors like the aging population and shortages of healthcare workers are driving the demand for assistive technology robots. Companies like KUKA(healthcare subsidiary Swisslog) are specializing in robots for healthcare applications. For instance, Swisslog's Relay is designed for inpatient and outpatient services, like the transport of medicines and other hazardous medications, including chemotherapy. The emergence of robotic technology has transformed the way businesses are carrying out their operations. Moreover, with the proliferation of e-commerce, the need for automated warehouses is increasing. Kiva and Mobile Industrial Robots(MiR) are prominent companies among other startups innovating in the warehouse robotics space.
- The growth of omnichannel retailing means distribution centers and logistics warehouses need to transform their systems to handle both pallets and packaging destined for retail shelves, while also picking and packing highly varied items for shipping directly to individual consumers. In May 2020, ABB enhanced robotic picking and packing portfolio to transform omnichannel order fulfillment and retail logistics with the launch of the new IRB 390 FlexPacker to support customized packaging, vertical packing, and high-speed, high-variation sorting and on-demand order picking in logistics and e-commerce fulfillment centers. Possible uses include secondary packaging in food (dry and wet), beverage, pharmaceutical, medical, personal care, pet care (food and more), CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods), and logistics.
- In May 2020, BMW announced joining forces with chipmaker Nvidia to create faster and smarter logistics robots. BMW developed logistics robots and smart transport robots (STR) equipped with in-house with A.I. modules. The robots use the A.I. in recognition of people and objects like forklifts as navigating on the floor. They can even calculate alternative routes with a fraction of seconds. BMW used Nvidia's Isaac robotics technology to develop functions of perception, segmentation, and human pose estimation to make the robots more agile and to avoid collisions. The robots could also render tracings of machine parts, which are used to train neural networks on Nvidia DGX servers.
- The proliferation of armed ground robots at recent defense trade shows indicates that the U.S. military and its allies and partners are warming to the idea of sending such platforms onto the battlefield. In May 2020, Sphero, the company behind robotic toys like the BB-8 robot and educational robotics kits, announced that it spins its public safety division into a new company, dubbed Company Six. It plans to commercialize robots and A.I. software for first responders, government, defense, and those who work in dangerous situations. Sphero has brought four million robots to market, which includes programmable tank robots. The company would see an opportunity in the military and first responder space as police in Massachusetts are reportedly testing Boston Dynamics' Spot robot. The U.K. military has bomb disposal robots, and the U.S. is testing robotic combat vehicles.
Asia-Pacific is Expected to Hold Major Share
- Due to the significant adoption of industrial robots throughout the region, Asia-Pacific is expected to record the highest growth rate over the forecast period. China is dominating the regional adoption rate of robotics due to the massive deployment in the country's governing electronic and automotive manufacturing sectors. As these sectors are developing at a high rate in other economies in the region like India, there is vast potential for growth in the market studied. The regional government is also a significant factor in the development of the regional robotics market. For instance, India plans to invest in military robotics, and by 2023, the country is preparing to deploy advanced robotic soldiers. Also, a New Delhi-based company is building robots for the Indian Army.
- The aging population of the countries of Asia-Pacific, such as Japan and China, are driving growth in the medical technology sector, creating a massive market for service robots in the region. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (Japan), around 36.2 million inhabitants are expected to be 65 years or older in 2020. This is encouraging companies to invest in products for the elderly in the region. With a rapidly aging population, the country is increasingly looking for robots and AI to help caregivers in nursing homes to take care of older people. One such robot deployed is Paro (baby seal), which is designed to treat diseases like Alzheimer's.
- The World Robotics report 2019 shows a new record stock of about 300,000 operational industrial robots in the Republic of Korea in 2018. Within five years, South Korea has doubled its count of robots. The country ranked third following China and Japan in 2018. But the dynamics of robot installations have decreased in recent years, and for 2019 a continued decrease is expected. However, South Korea is affected by the US-China trade dispute, but there could be positive and negative effects: China is a famous export destination for Korea's intermediate products. The conflict is expected to result in decreasing demand from China. In contrast, Korean products might substitute certain Chinese products.
- In September 2019, ABB started construction of its new robotics manufacturing and research facility in China, the world's largest robotics market. The facility is expected to open during the first half of 2021 and represents a total investment of USD150 million (1.1 billion CNY). The new factory, which is made of 67,000 sq.ft, is in Kangqiao, near Shanghai. It will deploy the latest manufacturing processes, including machine learning and digital and collaborative solutions. The new factory will also have an onsite research and development center, which will help accelerate innovations in AI. The center will also serve as an innovation hub where ABB closely collaborates with its customers to co-develop automated solutions tailored to their individual needs.
The robotics market is highly competitive and consists of several major players. In terms of market share, few of the major players such as Fanuc Corporation, ABB Ltd, KUKA AG, Yaskawa Electric Corporation, etc. currently dominate the market. These major players, with a prominent share in the market, are focusing on expanding their customer base across foreign countries. These companies are leveraging strategic collaborative initiatives to increase their market share and increase their profitability.
- March 2020 - Yaskawa Motoman launched HC20XP collaborative robot. Featuring hand-guided teaching for implementation of a robot system, the 20 kg payload HC20XP collaborative robot is suited for applications where robots need to work safely or close to humans. The IP67-rated collaborative robot is equipped for continuous use in damp or splash-prone environments. Made of cast aluminum, this model features a surface designed for utilization in sanitary environments where wipe or wash is required.
- February 2020 - DENSO Robotics was showcased new robots aimed at entry-level manufacturing applications, as well as a new series of high-performance robots for large part manufacturing at ATX West 2020 manufacturing event. The new products include the LPH series, which is expected to meet the demand for precision robots for light-duty manufacturing applications, and the VM-VL series, giant assembly robots aimed at manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, and other industrial applications.
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