Inspired by living organisms, soft material robotics hold great promise for areas where robots need to contact and interact with humans, such as manufacturing and healthcare. Unlike rigid robots, soft robots can replicate natural motion – grasping and manipulation – to provide medical and other types of assistance, perform delicate tasks, or pick up soft objects.
One of the key advantages of soft robots is their ability to interact with the environment in a gentle and safe manner. Unlike traditional robots that are typically made of rigid materials, soft robots can conform to the shape of the objects they are interacting with, reducing the risk of damage or injury. This makes them well-suited for tasks such as grasping delicate objects, handling fragile materials, and performing medical procedures.
Soft robotics is a rapidly growing field that focuses on the design, fabrication, and control of robots that are made from soft, flexible materials such as silicone, rubber, and other polymers. These robots are designed to have a high degree of compliance and conformability, allowing them to adapt to different environments and perform a wide range of tasks. Some examples of soft robots include soft grippers, soft actuators, and soft exoskeletons. The field of soft robotics is interdisciplinary, drawing on advances in materials science, mechanics, control theory, and biology to create new and innovative robotic systems. The potential applications of soft robotics are numerous, and include areas such as healthcare, manufacturing, and search and rescue operations.
There are many potential applications for soft robots, some of the most promising include:
Soft Robotics Market
Soft Robotics Market size was valued at USD 620.2 Million in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 10,839 Million by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 39.13% from 2023 to 2030.
The soft robotics market is expected to grow at a significant rate in the coming years. According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the soft robotics market is expected to reach $4.4 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 29.7% during the forecast period from 2018 to 2023.
This growth is driven by several factors, including:
- Increasing demand for automation in various industries: The growing demand for automation in industries such as healthcare, agriculture, and manufacturing is driving the growth of the soft robotics market.
- Advancements in materials and technologies: The development of new materials and technologies, such as electroactive polymers and shape memory alloys, is enabling the creation of more advanced and versatile soft robots.
- Growing adoption in medical and healthcare applications: The increasing use of soft robots in medical and healthcare applications, such as surgical robots and rehabilitation robots, is driving the growth of the market.
- Government support and funding: Governments around the world are investing in research and development in the field of soft robotics, which is driving the growth of the market.
- Increase in demand for personal and service robots.
- Growing adoption of Industry 4.0, which includes the use of soft robots in manufacturing and other industries.
It is worth noting that the soft robotics market is a rapidly evolving field, and the market size and growth rate may vary based on the specific application and region. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the market, but the long-term growth prospects for the soft robotics market remain positive.
The global soft robotics market is bifurcated into various segments based on type, component,
end-use, and region.
Based on type, the classification includes soft grippers, cobots, inflated robots, and exoskeleton.
The exoskeleton segment is expected to witness the largest market share during the forecast
period, with a CAGR of 33.5%. Exoskeleton robots are designed to augment, imitate, or enhance the human body’s movements. Exoskeleton robots are mainly utilized for rehabilitation programs in the healthcare industry to train muscle movements and aid in injury recovery. It is commonly utilized in the military to counteract weariness and injury among combatants. Exoskeleton robots have promising potential in the healthcare, defense, industrial, and consumer areas. Consequently, driving market expansion for soft robotics.
Soft grippers are expected to hold the second-largest share. A soft gripper is a type of soft
robotics that can pick up an extensive range of irregularly shaped and fragile objects, such as
bakery products or glass. Due to the elimination of time spent computing and administering a
specific method for each object, soft grippers are remarkably quick at picking up unstructured
things, as they can conform to an extensive range of objects. Soft grips are excellent for food
distributors, warehouses, and manufacturers that offer various products.
Based on components, the classification includes hardware and software.
The hardware component is expected to hold the majority of market shares during the forecast
period with a CAGR of 31.4%. Soft robotics’ hardware consists of a body or frame, manipulators, drive-train, and control system. These hardware components are constructed from soft, highly flexible materials such as paper, fabric, and fibers. Market participants are ingeniously designing soft robotics to fulfill the needs of several industries; hence, there is substantial global demand for soft robotics hardware. In addition, the growing desire for automation in various industries, such as food and beverage and retail, accelerates the demand for soft robots in the coming years.
Software components are expected to hold the second-largest share. The software component
is required to control soft robots. It supports the analysis, design, testing, modification,
installation, and controlling of soft robots with a complete toolchain. Soft robot manufacturers
utilize various software to supply the fundamental programming framework. In addition, the
combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) is enhancing the capabilities
of soft robotics.
Based on end-user, the market is classified into healthcare, advanced manufacturing, food &
beverages, logistics, and others.
The Healthcare sector is expected to hold the largest share in revenue with a CAGR of 30.3%
during the forecast period. This market segment covers soft stretch sensor technology,
subdivided depending on medical, surgical, and other applications. In addition, soft robotics
facilitates highly efficient processes and a safer environment for patients and healthcare
professionals. Soft robotics is an innovative manufacturing solution that market participants in
the healthcare industry are implementing in surgical, pharmaceutical, and other industries to
achieve safe human-machine interaction. In addition, the global healthcare industry is quickly
embracing soft robotics systems due to the need for more extensive and task-specific training
than traditional approaches.
The advanced manufacturing sector is expected to hold the second-largest share in the market.
Advanced manufacturing solutions such as soft robotics systems are needed for the reliable
production of cutting-edge, cost-effective, flexible manufacturing solutions in the medical,
aerospace, pharmaceutical, and other industries. Additive manufacturing and
robotics/automated processes are also driving the expansion of advanced production systems
in automotive, consumer goods, prototypes, and other areas.
North America will grow at the highest CAGR. This region’s deployment of soft robotics is
driven mainly by the continued tendency to automate manufacturing facilities to enhance
American industries worldwide. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in
the U.S. has recorded approximately 39 serious robot accidents, ranging from amputation to
death. Consequently, there is a rise in safety standards in the manufacturing and processing
industry, compelling businesses to engage in soft robotics. In addition, there is a considerable
increase in the region’s warehouses and distribution hubs. Therefore, it is projected that the
demand for warehouse management systems will increase, offering lucrative growth prospects
for the soft robotics market.
Europe will hold the second-largest share of USD 1,801 million with a CAGR of 32.2% during
the forecast period. According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), Europe has the
most significant number of installed robots. Consequently, it signifies the technological
readiness of this region to absorb new technology. With technical innovation and increased
awareness and understanding of soft robotics, the European soft robotics market is expected
to grow in the coming years.
The major players in the market are ABB Ltd., Bionik, Laboratories Corp., Cyberdyne Inc., Ekso Bionics Holdings, Inc., Fanuc Corporation, KUKA AG, ReWalk Robotics Ltd., RightHand Robotics Inc., Soft Robotics Inc., and Yaskawa Electric Corporation.
As soft robotics continues to evolve, the market potential is immense. According to market research reports, the global soft robotics market is expected to witness substantial growth in the coming years. Factors such as increasing automation across industries, advancements in material science, and the demand for human-robot collaboration are driving this growth. Companies and startups are investing in research and development to bring innovative soft robotic solutions to market, further fueling its expansion.
In conclusion, soft robotics is a transformative field that is revolutionizing industries and unlocking new possibilities. By combining the strengths of soft and flexible materials with innovative design principles, soft robots are capable of operating in unstructured environments, collaborating safely with humans, and undertaking tasks that were previously deemed impossible. With its potential to enhance healthcare, manufacturing, logistics, and disaster response, soft robotics is paving the way for remarkable market growth and ushering us into a new era of robotics and automation.
References and Resources also include: