Industries are increasingly adopting robots to perform repetitive, high-volume tasks, driven by lower costs and increased flexibility - with sales almost doubling in 2017.
A report from the International Federation of Robotics says that sales of service robots (those designed to assist humans) for professional use was up 85 per cent year-on-year in 2017. The value of those sales rose 39 per cent, to $6.6 billion, over the same period, indicating that rising adoption is driving prices down.
Logistic systems, such as robots used in manufacturing, enjoyed the strongest demand, account for almost two-thirds of total sales and more than one-third of the sales value (63 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively) of professional service robots. 69,000 of these systems were installed last year: a 162 per cent rise compared to 2016.
Logistic, medical and field (agriculture) robots form the three largest areas of the service robot sector, and the trend continued in 2017. The value of medical robot sales rose to 29 per cent of the professional service robot sector ($1.9 billion), while field robots fell slightly (2 per cent) to a 15 per cent share ($966 million). 6,375 field robots were sold, of which almost 5,400 were milking units.
The personal and domestic sector is on the rise as well, incorporating products like the Roomba vacuum cleaner, iMow robotic mower and Winbot window cleaner. The value of this segment rose by 27 per cent year-on-year, to $2.1 billion, with volume rising 25 per cent to 8.5 million units.
"Floor cleaning robots, robo-mowers and robots for edutainment...have increasingly become part of our lives," said report author and chairman of the IFR Service Robot Group Martin Haegele. "Future product visions point to domestic robots of higher sophistication, capability and value, such as assistive robots for supporting the elderly, for helping out with household chores and for entertainment."
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