More than 13,700 service robots for professional use were sold in 2010, some 4% more than in 2009, reports the IFR Statistical Department in the new study World Robotics 2011 – Service Robots, which was published last week. The sales value increased by 15% to US$3.2 billion, the group notes in a prepared statement.
With about 6,000 units, robots used for military applications accounted for 45% of the total number of service robots for professional use sold in 2010. Of that amount, unmanned aerial vehicles are the most important application. The value of defense robots can only roughly be estimated at US$696 million in 2010, making up 22% of the total sales of professional service robots.
The total number of field (agricultural) robots – mainly milking robots – sold in 2010 was almost 4,200 units, accounting for a share of 30% of the total unit supply of professional service robots. The sales value for field robots was about US$744 million, accounting for about 24% of the total value of professional service robot sales. Roughly 75% of the total unit sales of professional service robots in 2010 were for defense or agricultural robots.
Sales of medical robots in 2010 increased by 14% compared to 2009, amounting to 932 units, which represented a 7% share of total professional service robot sales. Within the medical segment, the most important applications are robot assisted surgery and therapy. The total sales value of medical robots was up by 33% to US$1.361 million, accounting for 43% of the total sales value of professional service robots. Medical robots are the most expensive service robots with an average unit price of about US$1.5 million, including related equipment and services.
The use of logistic systems in factories, hospitals, public buildings, and outdoor areas, such as seaports, increased by 10% to more than 900 units. Sales of all other professional service robots were less than 500 units in 2010.
Sales of service robots for professional use will increase to 87,500 units between 2011 and 2014
Looking forward, sales of professional service robots are forecast to increase to about 87,500 units between 2011-2014. That amount includes over 25,500 milking robots, followed by service robots for defense applications with more than 22,600 units. This is probably a rather conservative estimate. These two service robot groups make up 55% of the total forecast for the professional service robots.
A strong growing sector will be the mobile platforms in general use. Service robot suppliers estimate that about 12,000 mobile platforms in general use will be sold in the period 2011-2014. These mobile platforms are purchased as stand-alone components for the design of highly customized service robot solutions. The variety of their sensors together with an able navigation system allows mobile platforms to freely move in different environments to perform various tasks such as data-acquisition. Adding additional manipulation capabilities such as a robot arm or simple lifting mechanism enables direct interaction with the environment as well as the ability to modify it. If the platforms also possess network communication capabilities, a wide range of interaction concepts can be designed.
Sales of logistic systems and medical robots will also increase considerably in the 2011-2014 period. The value of professional service robots between 2011 and 2014 is estimated at about US$14 billion in total.
“Future robot systems will be aimed at supporting citizens in key areas of activity: Service robots in the professional domain will reduce physical workloads and will intervene in hazardous or life-critical environments; robot companions will improve personal well-being, security, comfort and entertainment.” stated Martin Hägele, Chairman of the IFR Service Robot Group.
Service robots for personal/domestic use will continue to increase
Service robots for personal and domestic use are mainly in the areas of domestic (household) robots, which include vacuum cleaning, lawn-mowing, entertainment, and leisure robots, including toy robots, hobby systems, education and research. In 2010, about 540,000 service robots for personal/domestic use were sold. Some 14.4 million units may be added in the period 2011-2014. The Sales value in the forecasted period will be about US$ 5.4 billion.