Considerable increase of medical robots and logistic systems
Strong demand for domestic and entertainment robots
18 September 2013 - About 16,100 service robots for professional use were sold in 2012, 2% more than in 2011, reports the IFR Statistical Department in the new study "World Robotics 2013 - Service Robots", which was published on Wednesday in Frankfurt. The sales value slightly decreased to US$ 3.4 billion.
According to information provided by companies worldwide, sales of medical robots increased by 20% compared to 2011 to 1,308 units in 2012, accounting for a share of 8% of the total unit sales of professional service robots. The most important applications are robot assisted surgery and therapy. The total value of sales of medical robots increased by 10% to US$ 1,495 million, accounting for 44% of the total sales value of the professional service robots. Medical robots are the most valuable service robots with an average unit price of about US$ 1.5 million, including accessories and services. Therefore, suppliers of medical robots also provide leasing contracts for their robots.
Almost 1,400 logistic systems were installed in 2012, accounting for 9% of the total sales of professional service robots. Automated guided vehicles in manufacturing environments and in non-manufacturing environments are building up an increase of 11% compared to automated guided vehicles sales numbers in 2011. It is assumed that the actual number of newly deployed systems is far higher. The value of sales of logistic systems is estimated at about US$ 196 million in 2012. Medical robots as well as logistic systems are well established service robot application areas with a considerable growth potential.
About 6,200, service robots in defense applications accounted for almost 40% of the total number of service robots for professional use sold in 2012. Sales decreased by 18%. Thereof, unmanned aerial vehicles seem to be the most important application as their sales increased by 8% to almost 5,500 units. However, sales of unmanned ground based vehicles, which include e.g. bomb fighting robots, and demining robots were observed to decrease in 2012 compared to 2011.
4,750 milking robots were sold in 2012 compared to 4,900 units in 2011, representing a slight decrease of 3%. Other robots for livestock farming, such as mobile barn cleaners or robotic fencers for automated grazing control, increased substantially but the numbers are still relatively low. The total number of field robots sold in 2012 was about 5,300 units, accounting for a share of 33% of the total unit supply of professional service robots. Defense and milking robots accounted for 72% of the unit sales of professional service robots.
Turning to the projections for the period of 2013 to 2016, sales forecast which were provided by companies worldwide indicate an increase to about 94,800 units with an estimated value of US$ 17.1 billion.
Thereof, about 28,000 robots for defense applications are expected to be sold in the period of 2013 to 2016. They are followed by milking robots with about 24,500 units. However, this is probably a rather conservative estimate. These two service robot groups make up 55% of the total forecast of service robots at the current time.
Strong growing sectors will be mobile platforms in general use, logistic systems and medical robots. "Driven by evolving security threats, there is a growing need to monitor everyday environments, which results in increased and difficult-to-manage workloads and data flows. To help meet this need, robots will play an even greater role in the maintenance, security and rescue market," stated Martin Hägele of Fraunhofer IPA, the author of the study.
So far, service robots for personal and domestic use are mainly in the areas of domestic (household) robots, which include vacuum and floor cleaning, lawn-mowing robots, and entertainment and leisure robots, including toy robots, hobby systems, education and research.
In 2012, it was estimated that two million domestic robots, including all types listed above, were sold, 15% more than in 2011. The value was about US$ 697 million. As for entertainment robots, about 1.1 million units were counted in 2012, 29% more than in 2011. Numerous companies, especially from Asia, offer relatively low-priced "toy robots". But among those mass products there are increasingly more sophisticated products for the home entertainment and hobby market. The total value of the 2012 sales of entertainment robots amounted to US$ 523 million.
It is estimated that about 22 million units of service robots for personal use will be sold between 2013 and 2016 thus indicating the continued strong growth of service robotics in this field.
More details are provided in "World Robotics 2013 - Service Robots".