The total number of professional service robots sold in 2012 rose by a relatively low 2%compared to 2011 to 16,067 units up from 15,776 in 2011. The sales value slightly decreased by 1%to US$3.42 billion. Since 1998, a total of more than 126,000 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 8 years in industrial robotics). Others like defence robots may only serve for a short time.
With about 6,200 units, service robots in defence applications accounted for almost 40% of the total number of service robots for professional use sold in 2012. Thereof, unmanned aerial vehicles seem to be the most important application as their sales increased by 8% to 5,453 units. However, the true number of these robots as well as the value might be much higher. 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. The sales value of field robots decreased by 4% to US $847 million, accounting for about 25% of the total value of professional service robot sales.
Sales of medical robots increased by 20% compared to 2011 to 1,308 units in 2012, accounting for a share of 8% of the total unit sales of professional service robots. The most important applications are robot assisted surgery and therapy with 1,053 units sold in 2012, 6% more than in 2011. The total value of sales of medical robots increased to US$ 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.
Due to more companies reporting their data and thus better information coverage, the data for logistics systems were revised. 1,376 logistic systems were installed in 2012, 11% more than in 2011 (revised data: 1,235 logistic systems), accounting for 9% of the total sales of professional service robots. 796 automated guided vehicles in manufacturing environments and 557 in non-manufacturing environments are building up an increase of 11% compared to automated guided vehicles sales numbers in 2011. 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$ 196 million. Medical robots as well as logistic systems are well established service robots with a considerable growth potential.
Oher professional service robots with lower units sales are construction and demolition systems, robots for professional cleaning, inspection and maintenance systems, rescue and security robots, mobile robot platforms and underwater systems. Underwater systems are among the most valuable professional service robots with a unit price of about one million US$.
In 2012, about 3 million service robots for personal and domestic use were sold, 20% more than in 2011. The value of sales increased to US$1.2 billion.
Service robots for personal and domestic use are recorded separately, as their unit value is generally only a fraction of that of many types of service robots for professional use. They are also produced for a mass market with completely different pricing and marketing channels.
So far, service robots for personal and domestic use are mainly in the areas of domestic (household) robots, which include vacuum and floor cleaning, lawn-mowing robots, and entertainment and leisure robots, including toy robots, hobby systems, education and research.
Handicap assistance robots have not taken off to the anticipated degree in the past few years. In 2012, 159 robots were sold, up from 156 in 2011. This is still quite a low number but the prospects are promising. A lot of national research projects in many countries concentrate on this huge future market for service robots. In contrast to the household and entertainment robots, these robots are high-tech products.
The market of robots for personal transportation could not be surveyed sufficiently because the available information was very poor. However, this market as well as home security and surveillance robots will gain importance in the future.
In 2012, it was estimated that 1.96 million domestic robots, including all types, were sold. The actual number might, however, be significantly higher, as the IFR survey is far from having full coverage in this domain. The value was about US$ 697 million. Compared to 2011 this represents an increase of 53%.
As for entertainment robots, about 1.1 Mio units were counted in 2012, 29% more than in 2011. 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. Since many years, the LEGO® Mindstorms® programme has belonged to the more high quality products. The total value of the 2012 sales of entertainment robots amounted to US$ 524 million.
Turning to the projections for the period 2013-2016, sales forecast indicate an increase to about 94,800 units with a value of US$ 17.1 billion.
Thereof, about 28,000 robots for defence applications will be sold in the period 2013-2016. They are followed by milking robots with about 24,500 units. 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.
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 15.5 million units in the period 2013-2016, with an estimated value of US$ 5.6 billion.
The size of the market for toy robots and hobby systems is forecast at about 3.5 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 2013-2016.
Sales of robots for elderly and handicap assistance will be about 6,400 units in the period of 2013-2016. This market will increase substantially within the next 20 years.