It looks a boom is inevitable in the robotics branch as indicated by the recent investment plans and developments. The world will see growing number of robots for various purposes in several industry verticals.
Research and Markets forecasts the global robotics market to grow at a CAGR of 29.11 percent over the period 2014-2019.
Personal / domestic service robotics market is expected to increase 22.65 percent over the period 2015-2019.
It also predicts that the global inspection robots market in the oil and gas industry to grow 20.46 percent over the period 2014-2019.
The size of the global medical robots market will be $11.4 billion in 2020 against $4.2 billion in 2015, growing at a CAGR of 22.2 percent, said Research and Markets – fuelled by growth in North America, followed by Europe and Asia Pacific.
Aging population, adoption of medical robots, prevalence of cancer, funding and collaboration initiatives supported by governments, and robots training programs to surgeons will be some of the growth drivers in Asia Pacific.
Last week, Audrey William, head of ICT Research, Frost & Sullivan Australia & New Zealand, said smart machines will disrupt the market place in 2016.
As costs pressures rise in developed economies and emerging economies, William noted that smart machines will negate the need for staff in certain segments of the business.
Rio Tinto recently rolled out fully automated driverless trucks at two of its iron ore mines in the Pilbara in Western Australia. The company plan to use driverless trains and will be deploying other technologies to cut costs.
Wal-Mart Stores recently announced that it has applied to U.S. regulators for permission to test drones for home delivery. Amazon was also trialling the use of drones for its online delivery business.
It’s notable that robots are being used in some hotels and restaurants replacing the human workforce.
Car maker Toyota recently announced that it would be investing $1 billion over the next five years to build Toyota Research Institute, a new company based in Silicon Valley focused on artificial intelligence and robotics.
Recently, the South Korean government announced that it will join forces with Samsung Electronics to develop precision manufacturing robots that could benefit the local manufacturing sector.
The government will invest 16.75 billion won or $14.8 million in the next three years to develop key components.
“Emphasis will be placed on developing precision speed reducers, motors, controllers and sensor encoders that are currently expensive and imported from abroad,” the ministry reportedly said, adding that “development of these parts should be completed by late 2018”.
Last year, South Korea had the fourth largest robot market after China in the first position.
In August, robot maker iRobot has received an order of $4 million from the U.S. Navy for the company’s model 110 FirstLook robots and accessories. According to the company, this model is compact and expandable which can integrate numerous third-party sensors for HazMat, CBRN missions and supports thermal imagers. In addition, iRobot 110 FirstLook can be equipped with a small Lightweight Manipulator to interact with the environment.
According to Research and Markets, the increased research and developments in robotics has resulted in the creation of robots with more artificial intelligence.
Robotic manufacturers are trying to develop more humanoid robots that have advanced technologies. Moreover, they are made to emotionally connect with humans like a friend.
Though these technologies exist today, these are not widely in use. Moreover, maintaining privacy and security are issues to be considered as these machines records every single movement in its surrounding area.
Availability of uninterrupted power supply, internet and expert software developers would curtail the widespread use of robots. Moreover, affordability is a concern.
It is also feared that the widespread use of robots across various industries would have a negative impact on jobs. Addressing this issue would be a key challenge for robot makers and users.
Robots improve productivity
Midea, a provider of air conditioning solutions for residential and commercial users, has achieved four percent worker-machine ratio by deploying more than 800 robots in production bases — guaranteeing a 99.9 percent pass rate.
The company upgraded its manufacturing bases to improve the production efficiency by reducing 70 percent of total labor costs.
Some of the top industrial robot suppliers are ABB, FANUC, KUKA, Yaskawa Electric, Epson Robotics, Honda, iRobot and Kawasaki Heavy Industries.
The labor intensive agricultural industry, which is finding difficulties in sourcing employees, is deploying robots to improve productivity.
A technology market report says the global agricultural robots market will grow at a CAGR of 11.07 percent during 2014-2019. Main robot vendors in the agricultural robots market are DeLaval, Lely, Yamaha, AB Electrolux, Agrobot, BouMatic Robotics, etc.
The robotics industry is also gaining presence in the law enforcement, first responder, and homeland security industry markets. The spending on robots will be $4.3 billion by 2021 from $764 million in 2014. Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, iRobot, Kongsberg, QinetiQ, Energid / Mitsubishi, ReconRobotics, SDR, Telerob, Lockheed Martin and Google are some of the robot suppliers.
Image caption: Robot in action at a factory of Midea