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.
Military robots are autonomous or remote-controlled machines designed specifically for military applications such as surveillance, search, and rescue, transportation as well as attack operations. Robot deployments in modern battles are supported by the changing nature of warfare and the high costs and soldier casualties.
Defense robots are professional service robots that are deployed by the military in combat scenarios. They’re often intended to enhance a soldier’s existing capabilities while keeping them out of harm’s way as much as possible. High soldier casualties in the past wars have raised concerns and resulted in various governments investing in new robotic systems to maintain a fleet of UUVs, UAVs, and UGVs for critical mission operations.
Since military robots systems would result in requirements for lesser warfighters, superior defense capabilities could be made available into previously inaccessible locations, and human losses would be reduced by removing military personnel from dangerous missions, military robots systems would prove to be a big military advantage.
The Global Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Robotics in the Defense market, which is valued at US$39.22 billion in 2018, is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.04%, to value US$61 billion by 2027. The cumulative market for global expenditure on AI & Robotics Defense Systems is valued at US$ 487 billion over the forecast period.
Research and Markets has released a new forecast report on the global military robots market that predicts the industry to expand from $16.08 billion in 2020 to $33.65 billion in 2026. Global military robots market is driven by some of the major factors such as increasing investment in defense & military sectors and technological advancement of military robots. The deployment of robots for dangerous and hazardous missions to decrease human casualties is increasing. This trend of replacing human soldiers with advanced robots to decrease casualties is anticipated to drive the growth of the market.
Demand for military robots is expected to rise in defense sector due to rising need for better cross border surveillance, effectiveness and efficiency in military operations. Further, increasing adoption of drones at soaring pace in defense sector for surveillance proposes is a major factor driving the growth of global military robot market. Moreover, replacement of frontline human soldiers with humanoid robots is expected to escalate the growth of global military robots in near future.
The military robots market is anticipated to register a CAGR of over 10% during the forecast period. An increase in defense spending due to territorial conflicts between countries is a major factor driving the military robots market. With the increasing warfare at the borders, there may be rapid growth in the procurement of military robots for common ISR functions, advanced monitoring, and targeting, which may propel the market demand.
Increasing terrorism activities all over the globe is one of the major factors which has forced all nations to strengthen their military and defense sector which is further anticipated to impel the demand for military robots in defense sector. In addition to this, military robots have numerous advantages such as lifesaving, firefighting ability and various other advantages.
Demand for AI & Robotics defense systems is anticipated to be driven by the massive investment made by countries like the US, China, Russia, India, Israel in the development of next-generation defense systems and the large scale procurement of such systems by countries like Saudi Arabia, India, Japan, and South Korea. The United States, Russia, China, India, Israel, and few European countries are heavily investing in the development of advanced robot soldiers and AI-based unmanned ground, sea, and airborne vehicles, which may bloster the growth of the market in the coming years.
The United States is the largest spender in the domain with China, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and South Korea anticipated accounting for the bulk of spending.
For instance, in 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense requested a significant rise in the defense budget to induct autonomous systems. The request included a nearly 10 times increase to the Navy’s expenditure on acquiring large unmanned surface vehicles, from $49 million in 2019 to $447 million in 2020. The army aimed to boost the development of robotics through increased spending from $74 to $115 million. The U.S. Department of Defense planned to spend $3.7 billion on robotic systems in the year 2020, along with $2.6 billion on hypersonic weapons and $0.9 billion on AI systems.
China is boosting the development of military robots to build up its defense force’s capabilities amid rising tensions with various countries. In July 2021, China introduced some of its newest accomplishments in robotic military systems by demonstrating cutting-edge air, sea, and land combat robots at an exhibition in Beijing, displaying the Chinese arms industry’s rapid development to meet the requirements of future warfare.
In April 2021, Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed its plans to create the nation’s first robotic military unit. Russia’s military forces have made breakthroughs in integrating artificial intelligence (AI) across military operations and trialed with prototypes during military operations in Syria
In terms of categories, Robotics is expected to account for the highest proportion of spending, followed by markets for computer vision, natural language processing, and social media analysis. The market for Robotics is anticipated to be the largest category primarily due to the ongoing procurement of such systems by countries of the Asia-Pacific, North America, and European regions.
The airborne segment is currently dominating the market. The increase in border security surveillance is propelling the investments in UAVs for aerial surveillance and enhanced situational awareness of the terrain. The development of UAVs with advanced payloads for higher durability, extended range, and improved accuracy to detect and track the targets for ground troops is propelling the procurement plans to the armed forces.
For instance, in August 2019, AeroVironment Inc. received a USD 5.25 million contract from the US Border Patrol, a part of the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) forces, for Puma 3 AE, a third-generation UAV. Similarly, in October 2019, Elbit Systems Ltd was awarded a USD 153 million contract to provide a networked multi-layered UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) array to an undisclosed customer in Southeast Asia, through 2021. The contract may include the supply of over 1,000 THOR Multi-Rotor Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) mini-UAS, Skylark LEX, Skylark 3, and Hermes 450 tactical UAS, along with Universal Ground Control Stations. The military modernization programs of the armed forces to enhance their surveillance capabilities of the armies are driving the investments in the development of new UAVs across the world.
North America Held the Highest Share of Military Robotics in 2019
Currently, North America holds the highest market share in the military robots market, due to the development and procurement of UAVs, UGVs, and USVs by the defense forces in the United States. Military robots are currently being used by the US military and law enforcement agencies for various applications, including border security, search and rescue operations, crowd monitoring and control, and surveillance.
For instance, FLIR Systems Inc. received more than USD 40 million contract orders to supply more than 300 Centaur Unmanned Ground Vehicles to the US Marine Corps (order for more than 140 UGVs in April 2020) and US Air Force (order for approximately 200 UGVs in March 2020). Marine Corps Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams plan to deploy the FLIR Centaur for disarming IEDs (improvised explosive devices), unexploded ordnance, and similar hazardous tasks. Additionally, the country is investing in UUVs to strengthen its naval capabilities, which is propelling market growth. In February 2019, Boeing was awarded a USD 43 million contract from the US Navy to build four, long-endurance, extra-large UUVs. Such procurement of plans of unmanned systems is bolstering the growth of military robots in the region.
Key players operating in the global military robots market include BAE Systems plc, Elbit Systems Ltd., General Dynamics Corporation, Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd., Lockheed Martin Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., Rheinmetall AG, SAAB AB, and Thales Group.
The integration of advanced sensors systems into the robots improves the situational awareness of the military operators. For instance, in September 2019, FLIR Systems Inc. announced the industry’s first multi-gas detector for UAS. Also, the companies are investing heavily in R&D to increase autonomy into robots with the use of technologies, like artificial intelligence. In addition, the acquisition of small regional players and technology companies by international players and hardware manufacturing companies is expected to increase the consolidation in the market. For instance, FLIR Systems successfully completed the acquisition of Endeavor Robotics in March 2019. Such acquisitions may help the companies enhance their product lines, as well as the presence of companies in other geographical locations.