The yearly revenue for cobot arms will reach $11.8 billion by 2030, according to newly released analysis from ABI Research, a global technology market advisory firm. When revenue from software and end-of-arm tooling is added to the broader definition, the market of the cobot ecosystem will be worth $24 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of 28.6%, ABI added.
The analysis comes from ABI’s Industrial Collaborative Robots Market Tracker, which is part of the company’s Industrial, Collaborative & Commercial Robotics research service. The firm said that collaborative robotics will become increasingly mainstream over the next 10 years, buoyed by early innovators and adopters. However, some challenges remain for companies within the space.
“The prospects for the collaborative robotics market remain strong, despite some very visible inhibitors,” said Rian Whitton, senior analyst at ABI Research. “The hardware innovation is still trailing behind, and most of the value related to cobots does not come from collaboration. It comes through ease-of-use, re-programmability, lower total cost compared to industrial systems, and re-deployability. In essence, the value is one of lowering barriers rather than building entirely new use cases for robots. What is more, cobots still trail industrial systems in speed, performance, and payload, which will have to change if adoption is to continue at this feverish rate.”
In addition, the company notes that the cobot market as a percentage of the overall industrial robot market is very small. For example, revenue from cobot arms is only 5% compared to industrial robot hardware, but the firm said this will increase to 29% by 2030. Growth is not just related to adoption, but “also to the increasing convergence between the two sub-groups,” ABI said. Advances in sensors, machine vision, and motion control will give industrial robots some of the same benefits of collaborative systems. The value of software is also expected to grow, from $558 million in 2020 to $10.6 billion in 2030, the company said. Driving software growth will include features such as analytics, perception, motion control, and operations-related software.
In the cobot world, Universal Robots remains the market leader, with 59% of global cobot shipments, ABI Research said. The company has achieved relevance for screw-driving applications in the automotive industry, attracting the business of large car manufacturers, as well as component suppliers such as Lear and Continental. At the same time, Universal Robots are being used by smaller companies for pick-and-place and machine-tending applications.
ABI noted that manufacturer Jabil is deploying “collaborative robots en masse for their effectiveness as re-deployable and flexible assets in an increasingly fast-changing work environment.” Because manufacturing is requiring more flexibility through customization, last-minute orders, and high-volume, low-mix automation, collaborative robots are seen as a step towards “a leaner and more flexible workstation,” the company noted.
“Collaborative systems are not revolutionizing the industry so much as being the catalyst for a leaner and more flexible industrial robotic solution that opens the field up to small and medium manufacturers,” said Whitton. “As the demands of customization and high-mix, low-volume manufacturing present managers with new challenges, this technological development will be crucial in transitioning to a more adaptable solution.”
ABI’s market predictions fall in line with some other market predictions for cobots. In May 2019, Grand View Research published a report predicting that the collaborative robots market would reach $10.14 billion by 2025, with a CAGR of 44.5% during the forecast period.