A robot, is any automatically operated machine that replaces human effort, though it may not resemble human beings in appearance or perform functions in a humanlike manner. A robot is a machine—especially one programmable by a computer—capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically. A robot can be guided by an external control device, or the control may be embedded within.
The robots tend to possess some or all of the following abilities and functions: accept electronic programming, process data or physical perceptions electronically, operate autonomously to some degree, move around, operate physical parts of itself or physical processes, sense and manipulate their environment, and exhibit intelligent behavior, especially behavior which mimics humans or other animals.
The robot revolution has arrived and they have become our invaluable assistants in factories, surgery, space exploration, agriculture, bomb disposal, and construction. Over the last few decades, robots have rapidly grown from specialized devices developed for select industry applications to household items.
Robots are also appearing in our hospitals, promising to help us fight the COVID-19 pandemic and perform other healthcare tasks in safer and more efficient ways. And NASA just landed the Perseverance rover on Mars, with an autonomous helicopter called Ingenuity attached to its belly.
Robots play a crucial role in industrial automation, with many core operations in industries being managed by robots. They are traditionally used to carry out tasks that are complex, repetitive or hazardous to enhance productivity, quality and reduce operational costs for the manufacturers. The market is experiencing a significant transformation, with robots growing beyond the workhorses of industrial shop floors and beginning to adopt the roles of personal assistants, surgical assistants, delivery vehicles, autonomous vehicles, exoskeletons, and crewless aerial vehicles, among many other uses.
Robotics is a technology that integrates science, engineering, and technological innovation to create robots. Robotics involves the use of machines to take up the work that is done by humans. The use of robotics is not merely restricted to the manufacturing sector but also in many other fields like healthcare and agriculture.
Common Types of Robots
As robotics manufacturers continue to deliver innovations across capabilities, price, and form factor, robotics solutions are being implemented in an ever-increasing number of industries and applications. Advancements in processing power and AI capabilities mean that we can now use robots to fulfill critical purposes in a plethora of ways.
While robotics applications vary greatly—giving directions, stocking shelves, welding metal in dangerous environments, and much more—today’s robots can generally be grouped into six categories.
Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)
AMRs move throughout the world and make decisions in near real-time as they go. Technologies such as sensors and cameras help them ingest information about their surroundings. Onboard processing equipment helps them analyze it and make an informed decision—whether that’s moving to avoid an oncoming worker, picking precisely the right parcel, or selecting an appropriate surface to disinfect. They’re mobile solutions that require limited human input to do their job.
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)
While AMRs traverse environments freely, AGVs rely on tracks or predefined paths and often require operator oversight. These are commonly used to deliver materials and move items in controlled environments such as warehouses and factory floors.
Articulated robots (also known as robotic arms) are meant to emulate the functions of a human arm. Typically, these can feature anywhere from two to 10 rotary joints. Each additional joint or axis allows for a greater degree of motion—making these ideal for arc welding, material handling, machine tending, and packaging.
While many mobile humanoid robots may technically fall under the domain of an AMR, the term is used to identify robots that perform human-centric functions and often take human-like forms. They use many of the same technology components as AMRs to sense, plan, and act as they carry out tasks such as providing directions or offering concierge services.
Cobots are designed to function alongside or directly with humans. While most other types of robots perform their tasks independently, or in strictly isolated work areas, cobots can share spaces with workers to help them accomplish more. They’re often used to eliminate manual, dangerous, or strenuous tasks from day-to-day workflows. In some cases, cobots can operate by responding to and learning from human movements.
The various types of robots are often combined to create hybrid solutions that are capable of more complex tasks. For example, an AMR might be combined with a robotic arm to create a robot for handling packages inside of a warehouse. As more functionality is combined into single solutions, compute capabilities are also consolidated.
The Global Robotics Market was valued at USD 27.73 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 74.1 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 17.45%, during the period of 2021-2026. Curbing the COVID-19 involved utilization of various robot technologies such as cleaning and disinfection service robots. Increased hygienic demands opened this new niche for service robots. As a result, many manufacturers registered new disinfection robots in 2020. Companies delivering food as well as other purchases are facing a growing demand.
The growth of the top robotics market is driven by factors such increasing demand for service robots from medical and healthcare sectors, and growing investments for automation in various industries. Service robots have witnessed widespread acceptance among various professional and personal applications.
Owing to the rising advantages of smart factory systems, the market has been witnessing significant demand over the past decade. The adoption of automation to ensure quality production and meet market demand, and the growing demand from small- and medium-scale enterprises in developing countries is fueling the growth of industrial robotics market globally. The growing penetration of IoT and investments in robotics have been the major contributors to the growth of the market.
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, a deadly respiratory disease that originated in China, has now become a worldwide issue and has also affected the top robotics market. Most types of industrial and service robots have been affected by this crisis, which is expected to be a short-term impact. Although the market for service robots are expected to have a short impact, the market for industrial will have a longer impact. This is due to the higher growth rate of service robots compared to industrial robots.
The COVID-19 pandemic will have a varying impact on different types of industrial and service robots. Traditional industrial robots are expected to be most affected due to a decrease in investments in major industries such as automotive and metals & machinery. However, collaborative robots are not expected to be as affected as it a growing market and is used in a more diverse set of industries. Service robots are expected to be lease affected. With drones, AGVs, disinfectant robots, and telepresence robots are being widely used for applications such as disinfection of premises, monitoring temperature, personal assistance, and automated delivery, there will be a steady demand for these robots during the pandemic. However, consumer-based service robots will be greatly affected due to the fall in disposable income as a result of the pandemic.
The global battle against COVID-19 has seen technology play a crucial role in assisting humans in containing the spread of the virus and dealing with the existing cases. One of the critical technologies that have made an enormous difference on the ground is robotics. A large number of hospitals worldwide are currently using robots to aid both the healthcare staff and patients. Robots have the potential to be deployed for disinfection, delivering medications and food, measuring vital signs, and assisting border controls.
Pandemic has accelerated automation adoption. We especially see a push towards robotization in sectors beyond automotive, sectors that have so far been more ambivalent to the opportunities offered by automation technologies. Technological advances, e.g. in sensing and AI, spiced up with further progress in usability and ecosystems, are lowering the hurdles and will drive further deployment of robotics solutions, making robotics a mainstream technology.
Global robotics technology industry, based on type, is fragmented into service robots, industrial robots, mobile robots, and others. Mobile robots are conquering warehouses and e-commerce, and are also poised to revolutionize smart factory solutions. – Early examples are deployed in the automotive industry; other sectors are likely to follow.
Manufacturing Robotics leading to Industry 4.0
Unscheduled factory downtime is one of the most prevalent causes of inefficiency in manufacturing today. Spotting a glitch on an assembly line in real time—and reconfiguring around it—can increase productivity, reduce errors and improve quality. As robots use more sensors and become more digitally connected, they will become much less susceptible to disruptions.
Robots are an important piece of the Industry 4.0 puzzle. Tomorrow’s smart factories will depend on new types of machines, such as collaborative and mobile devices that are interconnected. Artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing and data analytics will also make industrial robots more reliable than ever. The goal of Industry 4.0-enabled robotics is zero downtime and maximum efficiency.
Manufacturing industries are expected to face a workforce shortage within the next few years. Due to the anticipated shortage of skilled labor in manufacturing industries, increasing automation using industrial robots to counter the skill gap is one of the solutions adopted by companies. On the basis of segment, the automotive industry accounted for highest share of the industrial robotics market. The electrical and electronics segment is the second largest market for industrial robotics and is expected to grow at double digit CAGR The metal industry is the third largest market for industrial robotics. Chemical, rubber and plastics industry is the fourth largest market for industrial robotics, followed by food industry
According to KUKA, industrial robots will be used around the world at the BMW Group’s international production sites for the manufacture of the current and future vehicle models. The various robot models are expected to be used primarily in body-in-white production and other technologies. The scope of the agreement also includes other innovative products from the KUKA portfolio, such as its linear units, used to increase the workspace of the robot, and energy supply technology.
In the modern manufacturing sector, there are a few main ways in which AI is deployed, along with robotics. Using AI’s subset Machine Learning (ML), a system is designed where the device learns from its mistakes and automatically compensates for errors as it works. The combination of such technologies has the potential to make lives a lot easier. People could monitor the performance of robots as opposed to manually performing tasks themselves.
Collaborative robots expected to grow at highest CAGR
Collaborative industrial robots are gaining traction not only in SMEs but are replacing traditional industrial robots in a few cases.Rising wages, the shortage of skilled workers, and tighter margins pushing SMEs to automate, and the ease of deployment of collaborative robots is contributing to their huge growth.
Collaborative robots are largely being adopted by SMEs as they provide a fast ROI of about 3–12 months.Also, many collaborative robot manufactures such as Universal Robots (Denmark) have an easy-to-use programmable software, which is compatible with a wide variety of end effectors, vision systems, and other peripherals. This reduces the cost and complexity of integration when compared to traditional industrial robots. Due to the unique ability of collaborative robots to share the same workspace with a human worker, these robots are expected to be adopted at a faster rate in the coming years.
Handling application to dominate the top industrial robotics market
The term material handling encompasses a wide variety of operations such as pick and place, palletizing, packaging, and loading and unloading (or machine tending). Factors such as payload, speed, and factory layout contribute to the selection of the robot. Material handling generally requires a higher payload capacity compared with other applications.Fitting the industrial robot with the appropriate end effector is also necessary for specific material-handling applications.
Industrial robots with a payload capacity of 10 kg and more than 250 kg are adopted for the handling application.The handling application utilizes a wide range of payloads compared with applications such as welding and painting, which utilize robots with a payload between 20 kg to 50 kg and require specialized design.
Rising concerns for labor safety, adoption of automation to ensure quality production and to meet market demand on time are the main drivers that are expected to contribute to the growth of the automotive robotics market. The global automotive robotics market is
The implementation of robotics in agriculture is expected to bring out transformational result in coming years. The use of service robots in logistic industry is anticipated to show substantial growth. The growing online shopping space is the primary growth driver for this market.
Professional service robots are high-tech, sophisticated, and expensive service robots that are increasingly deployed in factories, hospitals, public buildings, and dangerous and hazardous environments. Other industries include defense, rescue and security, agriculture, logistics, construction, and professional cleaning among others, whereas personal service robots are used for domestic and entertainment and leisure purpose.
Service robots used for professional applications include drones, automated guided vehicles (AGVs), agricultural robots, inspection robots, humanoid robots, exoskeletons, construction robots, robotic kitchen, laundry robots, unmanned surface vehicles (USVs), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), inspection robots, telepresence robots, surgical robots, and cleaning robots.
Also, the rise in disposable income due to increasing industrialization in developing countries such as India and the Philippines is expected to increase the demand for service robots. The oil & gas industry in APAC has witnessed significant growth in the past 2–3 years, which is leading to a high demand for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).
Service robots are increasingly being adopted for new applications due to various advantages such as increased productivity, streamlined processes, and more excellent workplace safety. The main advantage of using service robots is the reduction in the cost of operation and high ROI. The market for domestic and personal service robotics segment is expected to grow during the forecast period, owing to high demand of service robots from the domestic and entertainment sectors and rise in disposable income of consumers.
According to the data by the United Nations, the global population of people above the age of 65 is expected to grow by 181% and may account for 16% of the population by 2050. The aging population is one of the primary factors for the significant growth in deploying robots in domestic healthcare and assistance applications.
Medical application employs service robots for a wide range of applications such as surgery, diagnostics, physical and mental therapy, and prosthetics among others. On the basis of product, the medical robots market is categorized into instruments & accessories and medical robot systems. the instruments and accessories segment is expected to command the largest share is likely to grow at the higher CAGR during the forecast period, according to MarketsandMarkets report.
The medical robot systems segment is further divided into surgical robot systems, rehabilitation robots, noninvasive radiosurgery, hospital & pharmacy robots, and other medical robotic systems.
The surgical robot systems segment is estimated to command the largest share of the medical robot systems market . This large share can be attributed to rising preference for minimally invasive surgeries, growing number of robotic laparoscopy procedures, and increasing neurological conditions requiring robotic procedures. However, the rehabilitation robot systems segment is expected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period. Factors attributing the high growth of this segment include increasing adoption of exoskeletons for rehabilitation therapy, rising prevalence of stroke, increasing use of assistive robots by geriatric population, and growing use of therapeutic robots for autism
In medical application was the major industry vertical, in terms of market share.
A number of innovations have allowed the robotics industry to grow by leaps and bounds. Human interaction with robots has been made possible by cobots. This represents a new trend that could revolutionize the use of robotics technology. ther innovations that have helped increase the robotics market demand include machine learning, underwater robotics, and self-driving vehicles. These technologies have wide-spread applications in warehousing, assembling, and manufacturing.
One of the major drivers for this market is technological advances in robot hardware. With the emergence of vendors offering commercial-off-the-shelf components, vendors can lower the cost of production with more compact product designs. Miniaturization of sensors, which is expected to be a trend in the forecast period as well, will play a significant role in the pricing of robots. As the price of the sensors continues to fall, there will be an emergence of more industrial and service robots at relatively lower prices. Vendors are incorporating sensors, such as vision systems, to enhance functions like detecting the location of parts and orientation and perform quality checks.
With the advancement of technologies, such as modular robotics, nano-robotics, and cloud robotics, the market studied is expected to be boosted. The major players in the market are developing affordable, small, compact, and energy efficient robotics solutions, to cater to a broader customer base. “Automation is a central competitive factor for traditional manufacturing groups, but is also becoming increasingly important for small and medium-sized enterprises around the world”, says Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation.
As far as technological trends are concerned, companies will, in the future, be concentrating on the collaboration of human and machine, simplified applications, and light-weight robots. Added to this are the two-armed robots, mobile solutions and the integration of robots into existing environments. There will be an increased focus on modular robots and robotic systems, which can be marketed at extremely attractive prices.
Industry 4.0 or Industrial Internet of things (IIoT) has set the wheels in motion for the next global revolution. It envisions a connected world characterized by seamless connectivity, real-time monitoring, and smart decision making. An era of convergence is in the making with robots at the center, running factories and making real time decisions with their smart peripherals.
There are several key elements of Industry 4.0 that apply to robotics, including connectivity and data. Connectivity is the basic rudimentary element. It’s hard to gain any value if machines are not somehow connected and gathering data, which is typically collected from various sensors embedded in controllers, robot arms and end-of-arm tooling. Manufacturers in a variety of industries are also investing in robots equipped with sensors and controllers that can harness artificial intelligence, data analytics, digital twins and other Industry 4.0 technologies.
Beyond that is predictive analytics, which is the ability to understand what’s going to happen before it actually happens. In the future, AI will be a key role in that process. Sensors are the eyes and ears of Industry 4.0 technology. They provide a variety of information concerning the current operating condition of robots, such as gripper pressure, arm position, and motor temperature or vibration.
The advantages of implementing IIoT in factories are many; asset maintenance, logistics, and predictive maintenance to name a few. By combining Big Data analytics and cloud computing, the robotics industry is expected to become more smart and perceptive to perform collaborative operations with humans during the forecast period. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is likely to widen market opportunities for industrial robots, with new business models aimed at market penetration and faster payback.
Although Industry 4.0 technology is quickly evolving, manufacturing engineers already have a variety of tools to make robots more productive. Options include proprietary systems, such as ABB Ability, FANUC FIELD and ZDT, and KUKA Connect, as well as third-party systems like Tend Robotics’ Cell.Mate. One of the first robotic applications of Industry 4.0 technology occurred several years ago in the auto industry when General Motors teamed up with Cisco and FANUC to launch a zero downtime program called ZDT.
The connected network of GM robots for painting, dispensing and welding are smart enough to know when they need maintenance so that they don’t break down. As the technology evolves, the system will transform into more of an in-process adaptive tool, where robots can monitor and automatically adjust their own performance for maximum productivity. More than 10,0000 connected robots later, the program has been a huge success. GM has been able to avoid more than 100 significant unscheduled downtimes since the program began. Considering 60 seconds of downtime can cost the carmaker as much as $20,000, those savings are quite significant.
Fukuda noted that robots were also useful in educating children and taking care of the elderly. “With the help of robots, our lives as human-beings will be easier and more comfortable,” Instead of being replaced by robots, people would be able to focus on “more interesting and creative jobs” with the assistance of robots.” Looking into the future of robotics technology, Fukuda stressed that micro-nano robotics and bio-robotics system would be key technologies shaping the new round of technological development, and the field of robotics would become more interdisciplinary.
North America is expected to account for the largest share of the total global expenditure on AI & robotics defense systems followed by the Asia Pacific Region where countries like China, India, South Korea, and Japan are investing billions to procure such systems.
In the race for automation in manufacturing, the European Union is currently one of the global frontrunners: 65 percent of countries with an above-average number of industrial robots per 10,000 employees, are located in the EU. The strongest growth drivers for the robotics industry are found in China; however, in 2019 some 40 percent of the worldwide market volume of industrial robots will be sold there alone. So says the 2016 World Robotics Report, as published by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR)
In terms of region, the five major markets including China, South Korea, Japan, United States, and Germany accounted for around 75% of the total industrial robotics sales volume in 2015. Asia/Australia is the world’s largest market for industrial robots, driven by growing demand for industrial robots from small- and medium-scale enterprises in China, Japan, South Korea, and India. Europe is the second leading region for industrial robotics market. Americas is the third largest market for industrial robots.
China, the market for growth
With a national 10-year plan – entitled “Made in China 2025” – the country is aiming to become one of the top technological industrial nations within just a few years. However, in order to achieve Beijing’s target of a robot density of 150 units by 2020, some 600,000 to 650,000 new industrial robots will have to be installed throughout China. By comparison: Around 254,000 units were sold in the global market during 2015. Nevertheless, today China is already a leading sales market. At around 68,600 units sold, the statistics for 2015 were 20 percent above the previous year’s figures, thereby exceeding the volume of sales for all European markets combined (50,100 units). Total sales will increase by 30% in 2016 and between 2016 and 2019 by 20% on average to more than 400,000 units in 2019. This will be 40% of the total sales in 2019.
China has made rapid progress in robotic science and technology over the past five years as a result of international cooperation, a renowned expert in the field of robotics and automation has said recently. “China’s effort in attracting international scientists is paying off. Programs launched by the government to bring foreign researchers to China has led to an exponential development in the country’s robotic technology in the last five years,” Toshio Fukuda, a Japanese professor from China’s 1000 Talent Plan for High-Level Foreign Experts and a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said. He added that the large and ever-growing number of Chinese students studying abroad also helped facilitate technological advancement in the field.
In China, drones, AGVs, and telepresence robots are being deployed in hospitals and other areas for transport, cleaning, and remote checkup.For industrial robots, European and North American industrial robotics market saw a sharp decline in the first and second quarter of 2020.
The Republic of Korea and Japan come in second and third place, as the world’s largest sales markets for industrial robots. The number of units sold in 2015 grew by 55 percent in the Republic of Korea, and by 20 percent in Japan. Together with Singapore, these two countries lead the rankings of the global automated economies for robot density in manufacturing. With a stable economic situation, it may be expected that both Korea and Japan will see average annual growth of 5 percent in sales of robots from 2016 to 2019.
North America on path to success
The USA is currently the fourth largest single market for industrial robots in the world. Within the NAFTA area (USA, Canada and Mexico), the total number of newly installed industrial robots rose by 17 percent to a new record of some 36,000 units (2015). The leader of the pack was the USA, accounting for three-quarters of all units sold. 5 percent growth was recorded. With a comparatively much smaller amount of units, the demand in Canada increased by 49 percent (5,466 units), while that in Mexico grew by 119 percent (3,474 units). With a stable economic situation, it may be expected that North America will see average annual growth of 5 to 10 percent in sales of robots from 2016 to 2019
Prominent industrial robot players profiled in this report are FANUC (Japan), ABB (Switzerland), YASKAWA (Japan), KUKA (Germany), Kawasaki Heavy Industries (Japan), Mitsubishi Electric (Japan)< DENSO (Japan), NACHI-FUJIKOSHI (Japan), Universal Robots (Denmark), Omron Adept (Japan), Seiko Epson (Japan), Stäubli (Switzerland), Siasun (China), Techman Robot (Taiwan), Comau (Italy), Yamaha (Japan), b+m Surface Systems (Germany), Delta Electronics (Taiwan), IGM (Austria), Dürr (Germany), Rethink Robotics (US), CMA Robotics (Italy), Precise Automation (US),ST Robotics (US), Franka Emika (Germany), MABI Robotic (Switzerland), Bosch (Germany), TAL Manufacturing Solutions (India), Hyundai Robotics (South Korea), and Kassow Robots (Denmark).
Prominent service robot players profiled in this report are Intuitive Surgical (US), Daifuku (Japan), DJI (China), iRobot (US), Kongsberg Maritime (Norway), DeLaval (Sweden), Amazon Robotics (US), Softbank Robotics (Japan), UBTECH Robotics (China), Precision Hawk (US), Hanson Robotics (China), CYBERDYNE (Japan), Parrot (France), GE Inspection Robotics (Switzerland), Stryker (US), KUKA (Germany), Neato Robotics (US), ECA Group (France), 3DR (US), Lely (Netherlands), GRAAL (Italy), Starship Technologies (US), ecoRobotix (Switzerland), HARVEST CROO (US), CMR Surgical (UK), EndoMaster (Singapore), SKYDIO (US), Skyqraft (Sweden), Matternet (US), ROBOTICS PLUS (New Zealand), Diligent Robotics (US), Flirtey (US), Dusty Robotics (US), Built Robotics (US), Moley Robotics (UK), and SPYCE FOOD (US).
Key players in the global medical robots market include Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (U.S.), Stryker Corporation (U.S.), Mazor Robotics Ltd. (Israel), Hocoma AG (Switzerland), Hansen Medical Inc. (U.S.), Accuray Incorporated (U.S.), Omnicell, Inc. (U.S.), Ekso Bionics Holdings, Inc. (U.S.), ARxIUM (U.S.), and Kirby Lester LLC (U.S.).
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