Recently, the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) released the World Robotics – Service Robots 2022 report, which summarises the development of global service robots over the past year.
The report shows that global sales of professional service robots grew by an astonishing 37 per cent in 2021. By region, the strongest growth was in Europe, with a 38 per cent market share, followed by North America at 32 per cent and finally Asia at 30 per cent.
Five areas where professional service robots are hottest
Marina Bill, president of the International Federation of Robotics, said, “Service robots for professional use are very diverse; they are often designed to perform specific tasks and can be found in warehouses, hospitals and airports, and can even help automate milking in dairy farms.”
The International Federation of Robotics has summarised the five categories of professional service robots that will sell the most in 2021 as logistics robots, hospitality robots, medical robots, professional cleaning robots and agricultural robots.
The first is logistics robots, which according to the statistics sold about 121,000 professional service robots in 2021, and more than one-third of them are logistics robots, which are mainly used for transporting goods, so most of them are in indoor environments, and the huge demand has brought the number of manufacturers producing logistics robots to 286.
The second is hotel robots, although a year-on-year surge of 85%, but the market share is still very small, a total of only 20,000 units sold, the current hotel robots used in the most scenarios or delivery and remote service.
Third was medical robots, which grew 23% year-on-year to 14,823 units, most of which were surgical robots, followed by robots for rehabilitation and non-invasive treatments, while the share of robots for diagnostics remained relatively low.
Fourth is professional cleaning robots, which grew by 31% to more than 12,600 units, mainly due to the need for sterilisation in various scenarios in the new crown epidemic, with a surge in demand for robots spraying disinfectant and destroying viruses with ultraviolet light, as well as cleaning scenarios such as window panes, swimming pools, and solar panels, which are gradually being taken up by robots.
Finally, agricultural robots, more than 8,000 units sold in 2021, an increase of 6%, and the common expected is that the largest application of agricultural robots is not farming, but milking, barn cleaning, etc., for planting robots is still not much, mainly because of the complexity of the planting scene, most of the robots that can only do simple and repetitive work can not be adapted.
Consumer service robots slow growth
Marina Bill, president of the International Federation of Robotics, said, “Consumer-oriented service robots are mainly used in home environments: they help with vacuuming, floor cleaning or gardening, but also for social interaction and education, and these service robots are produced for the mass market, and are priced and marketed in a completely different way compared to professional-use service robots. ”
Sales of new consumer service robots grew by 9 per cent in 2021 and include three main categories: household cleaning robots, gardening robots, and care robots.
Service robots used for household chores are the most prevalent, with a total of nearly 19 million units sold in 2021, a 12 per cent increase year-over-year. Specifically, sweeping robots and other robots used for indoor household floor cleaning are the most common, and such service robots are now commonplace and easy to purchase.
The other is gardening robots, including lawn mowing robots, which are expected to grow at an average double-digit annual growth rate over the next few years.
Finally, care robots for use in the home will be a growing niche market as the population ages.
Changing Competitive Landscape for Service Robots
This report analyses the industry structure of service robots, and the International Federation of Robotics combed through it to find that while service robots are a young and growing industry, 87% of the manufacturers in the industry are veteran companies, founded before 2017.
The report notes that the share of startups has been declining in recent years, largely due to a shift in the industry’s focus to software and apps, with many service robotics vendors no longer developing their own hardware, but instead using third-party hardware products and developing their own software on top of them – none of which are counted as service robotics producers.
Explore the deeper reasons for this change, on the one hand, such as sweeping robots, logistics robots and other segments of the market has reached a certain degree of saturation, start-ups are not strong enough to use the heavy assets of the production model is difficult to adhere to, instead of favouring the software development of asset-light mode of operation is more likely to succeed.
On the other hand, the current stock market has the demand for secondary development, through the continuous iteration of the software system, you can solve some of the application problems of service robots, so startups from hardware development to software development and application development is also a good choice.
Of course, today’s industry pattern is built on the basis of technology without major innovations, it is difficult to say how long it can be maintained, once a new technological change, who will win and who will lose is not yet known, after all, the veteran enterprise ship is difficult to turn the head, start-ups are more flexible.
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