Research firm IDC this week published a forecast for the commercial robot space, predicting the market could surpass $53 billion by 2022 at a more than 20% compound annual growth rate.
For the purposes of the company’s study, commercial service robotics is defined as robots “outside of the traditional industrial manufacturing industries,” which includes robots in retail, hospitality, logistics and distribution, and healthcare. Data from the forecast was sourced from IDC’s “Worldwide Semiannual Robotics and Drones Spending Guide Taxonomy,” which was published in November 2018.
Market drivers for the expected growth include advances in safety, collaborative robotics, improved usability, and cost considerations, IDC said.
Significant value from robotics adoption
“This growth is attributed to a robotics market that has matured to a point where users of the technology are achieving significant business value due to the use of the technology,” the forecast stated. This maturing “is translating into a buyer market that is increasingly accepting of the technology that is driving buyer investment. Vendors in the space are developing innovations that are making commercial service robots easier to deploy and use, and at a cost and business model that is appealing to markets that have not historically been the target market for robotics vendors.”
“Rather recent advancements in robotic technology have helped deliver robots that are providing non-manufacturing industries with the opportunity to deploy robots within their operation,” said John Santagate, research director for Commercial Service Robotics at IDC. “This is a very interesting market as we see 20% growth for each of the next five years as robots continue to deliver significant business process improvements across a wide range of industries, because robots are now capable of performing a broad range of tasks, and are doing so in collaboration with human workers.”
Santagate said three trends were driving the expected growth, including the maturing of robotics technology, interplay between robotics and technologies such as artificial intelligence, IoT and cloud computing, and an ongoing labor shortage in specific vertical markets.
At the same time, there were a few challenges that could impact the sector. While labor shortages were mentioned as a driver, the concerns of labor about robots replacing workers is seen as an inhibitor, the report stated. “Robots are often unfairly viewed negatively as a technology that is going to reduce job opportunities,” IDC said. “This sentiment is shifting a bit as those that have deployed commercial service robots are recognizing improved working conditions and new job opportunities, but the concern remains a top inhibitor of adoption.”
The report also said market awareness of these robots can hinder its growth. “Although the market has shown an interest in the technology, there remains work to be done to adequately educate the broader market as to the benefits of this technology,” the forecast stated.