The total number of professional service robots sold in 2013 rose by a relatively low 4% compared to 2012 to 21,000 units up from 20,200 in 2012. The sales value slightly decreased by 1.9% to US$3.57 billion. Since 1998, a total of about 150,000 service robots for professional use have been counted in these statistics. It is not possible to estimate how many of these robots are still in operation due to the diversity of these products resulting in varying utilization times. Some robots (e.g. underwater robots) might be more than 10 years in operation (compared to an average of 12 years in industrial robotics). Others like defence robots may only serve for a short time.
It is interesting to note that up to 2008 about 63,500 service robots for professional use were sold during a period of more than 12 years. However, during the past five years some 100,000, service robots for professional use were sold according to the results of these statistics. This demonstrates the accelerating rate of increase in sales. Still, few main application areas make up most of the volume.
With about 9,500 units, service robots in defence applications accounted for almost 45% of the total number of service robots for professional use sold in 2013. Thereof, unmanned aerial vehicles seem to be the most important application but their sales decreased by 12% to 8,500 units. A number of 750 unmanned ground based vehicles which include e.g. bomb fighting robots were sold, 80% more than in 2012. Up to 2010, bomb fighting robots had been counted in the category "Rescue and security applications". Therefore, the data of the previous years were revised.
The number of demining robots was 300 units in 2013, compared to some 300 units in 2012. The value of defence robots can only roughly be estimated. It was about US$792 million, 3% lesser than in 2012. This accounts to about 22% of the total sales of professional service robots. However, the true number of these robots as well as the value might be significantly higher.
Almost 5,100 milking robots were sold in 2013 compared to 4,750 units in 2012, representing a 6% increase. 760 units of other robots for livestock farming such as mobile barn cleaners or robotic fencers for automated grazing control were sold in 2013, resulting in an increase of 46%. The total number of field robots sold in 2013 was about 5,900 units, accounting for a share of 28% of the total unit supply of professional service robots. The sales value of field robots increased by 4% to US$ 883 million, accounting for about 25% of the total value of professional service robot sales. Other robots used for livestock farming as well as agricultural robots are getting grounded in the market also. Automation of farming and livestock breeding is increasing. 73% of the total unit sales of professional service robots in 2012 were defence or field robots.
Sales of medical robots decreased by 2% compared to 2012 to almost 1,300 units in 2013, accounting for a share of 6% of the total unit sales of professional service robots. The most important applications are robot assisted surgery and therapy with more than 1,000 units sold in 2013, 2% less than in 2012. The total value of sales of medical robots increased to US$1,450 million, accounting for 41% 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.
About 1,900 logistic systems were installed in 2013, 37% more than in 2012, accounting for 9% of the total sales of professional service robots. About 1,300 automated guided vehicles in manufacturing environments and about 450 in nonmanufacturing environments are building up an increase of 32% compared toautomated guided vehicles sales numbers in 2012. Despite the improvement of the data base, 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$216 million.
Medical robots as well as logistic systems are well established service robots with a considerable growth potential.
About 650 construction and demolition systems were supplied in 2013, however more units were estimated to be sold (no more reliable information could be retrieved). 320 robots for professional cleaning were sold, mainly professional pool cleaners. About 280 inspection and maintenance systems and 130 underwater systems were supplied.
Underwater systems are among the most valuable professional service robots with an average unit price of about US$1.1 million. The total value of sales was about US$103 million, accounting for a share of 3% of the total sales value of professional service robots in 2013. 105 rescue and security robots were installed in 2013. In the survey, a number of 733 mobile robot platforms for general use were reported. This number might also be considerably higher.
In 2013, about 4 million service robots for personal and domestic use were sold, 28% more than in 2012. The value of sales increased to US$1.7 billion.
Service robots for personal and domestic use are recorded separately, as their unit value is generally only a fraction of that of many types of service robots for professional use. They are also produced for a mass market with completely different pricing and marketing channels.
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. Handicap assistance robots have taken off to the anticipated degree in the past few years. In 2013 a total of about 700 robots were sold, up from 160 in 2012 - an increase of 345%!
Numerous national research projects in many countries concentrate on this huge future market for service robots. In contrast to the household and entertainment robots, these robots are high-tech products.
The market of robots for personal transportation could not be surveyed sufficiently because the available information was poor. However, this market as well as home security and surveillance robots will gain importance in the future.
In 2013, it was estimated that 2.7 million domestic robots, including all types, were sold. The actual number might, however, be significantly higher, as the IFR survey isfar from having full coverage in this domain. The value was about US$799 million, 15% higher than in 2012.
As for entertainment robots, about 1.2 million units were counted in 2013, 12% more than in 2012. Numerous companies, especially Asian ones, offer low-priced "toy robots". But among those mass products, there are increasingly more sophisticated products for the home entertainment market. For many years now, the LEGO® Mindstorms® programme has belonged to the more high quality products offering software environments which reach well into high-tech robotics. The total value of the 2013 sales of entertainment robots amounted to US$911 million.
Turning to the projections for the period 2014-2017, sales forecast indicate an increase to about 134,500 units with a value of US$ 18.9 billion.
Thereof, about 54,000 robots for defence applications will be sold in the period 2014-2017. They are followed by milking robots with about 28,200 units. This is probably a rather conservative estimate. These two service robot groups make up 61% of the total forecast of service robots at the current time.
A strongly growing sector will be mobile platforms in general use. Service robot suppliers estimate that about 16,000 mobile platforms as customizable multi-purpose platforms use will be sold in the period 2014-2017. Also, sales of logistic systems will increase considerably in this period. More than 10,200 units are estimated, thereof, about 9,200 automated guided vehicles. About 1,140 robots for rescue and security applications will be sold between 2014 and 2017, mainly surveillance and security robots. Robots for professional cleaning will increase to about 2,550 units in the same period, mainly systems for floor cleaning. About 7,130 medical robots will be sold plus3,850 robots for inspection and maintenance.
In the period 2014-2017, sales of underwater systems are projected to amount to about 680 units. Another strong growing sector is public relation robots which will increase to more than 400 robots. These robots are increasingly used in supermarkets, at exhibitions, in museums etc. as guides or information providers. Another strong growing application group is construction and demolition. About 2,700 units are estimated to be sold in the period between 2014 and 2017. This is also a rather conservative forecast. Construction and demolition robots are increasingly used in areas which are dangerous or unhealthy for humans.
These forecasts are, as mentioned earlier, based mainly on individual sales projections by companies and professional organizations. It is the opinion of the IFR Statistical Department that the forecasts should be seen as trends concerning market direction rather than actual and precise sales forecasts.
It is projected that sales of all types of robots for domestic tasks (vacuum cleaning, lawn-mowing, window cleaning and other types) could reach almost 23.9 million units in the period 2014-2017, with an estimated value of US$6.5 billion. The size of the market for toy robots and hobby systems is forecast at about 4.5 million units, most of which for obvious reasons are very low-priced. About 3 million robots for education and research are expected to be sold in the period 2014-2017.
Sales of all types of entertainment and leisure robots are projected at about 7.5 million units, with a value of about US$4.5 billion.
Sales of robots for elderly and handicap assistance will be about 12,400 units in the period of 2014-2017. This market is expected to increase substantially within the next 20 years.