FRANKFURT Oct 12 Demand for service robots is
expected to accelerate in the next three years as robots -
already used to perform tasks such as assisting medical surgery,
milking cows or moving objects around warehouses - become more
popular for domestic and personal use.
Global turnover of service robots - which include robots
that can mow the lawn or clean windows - is forecast to increase
to about $46 billion in the 2016-2019 period, compared with
about $7 billion in 2015, the International Federation of
Robotics said on Wednesday.
Service robots, which perform tasks useful for humans and
are often mobile, are distinguished from industrial robots,
which are used in automated manufacturing and are normally kept
in cages on factory floors.
Industrial robots, with global sales worth an estimated $46
billion including software and systems last year alone, are
still a far bigger market, but growth that has been driven by
Chinese demand is slowing.
"The demand for service robots is seeing a historic
breakthrough," IFR President Joe Gemma said in a statement.
"In addition to the already established business with
professional service robots the personal and domestic segment is
Major players in service robotics include Intuitive Surgical
, iRobot Corporation and Google of
the United States, China's DJI and Germany's Kuka.
Several hundred start-ups are also active in the market.
Robots for professional and for personal and domestic use
are seen as accounting for roughly equal shares of the service
robotics market through 2019.
In the professional field, sales of medical robots rank
ahead of agricultural and then logistics applications.
The faster-growing personal and domestic market is dominated
by household robots such as vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers and
window cleaners. Demand for entertainment robots including toys
and hobby systems is also growing fast.
Sales of humanoid robots as human companions for everyday
tasks have until now not been significant, after the first ones
were shipped in 2004 to international laboratories and
universities for research and development.
But about 8,000 are expected to be sold through 2019 as
companies including Japan's Honda, Kawada and
Toyota develop them beyond the toy and leisure stage.
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Adrian Croft)