Sales of robots for the service industry increased by 37% worldwide

Frankfurt, October 26, 2022 — Sales of professional service robots increased by 37% in 2021. By region, the strongest growth came from Europe with a market share of 38%, followed by North America with 32% and l Asia with 30%. At the same time, sales of new consumer service robots increased by 9%, according to the “World Robotics 2022 – Service Robots” report, published by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

Service robots for professional use

“Service robots for professional use are extremely diverse,” says IFR President Marina Bill. “They are usually designed to perform a specific task and can be found in warehouses, hospitals and airports or even help on dairy farms to automatically milk cows.”

Top five applications for professional service robots by units sold:

Around 121,000 professional service robots were sold in 2021 – more than one in three robots built were for transporting goods or goods. The majority of them are used in indoor environments, for example factories, to which the general public does not have access, so these robots are not designed to handle public traffic. A total of 286 companies produce service robots in this category.

Hospitality robots are enjoying increasing popularity but compared to market potential, sales figures are still low: more than 20,000 units (+85%) were sold in 2021. Robots in this category are either used for the preparation of food and beverages, or for mobile guidance, information, and telepresence.

Sales of medical robots increased by 23% to 14,823 units. The majority are surgical robots, followed by robots for rehabilitation and non-invasive therapy, while the share of diagnostic robots is still relatively small.

The demand for professional cleaning robots has increased by 31%. Sales of over 12,600 units have been reported. The main application of this group is floor cleaning. Disinfection robots that spray disinfectant fluids or use ultraviolet light to destroy viruses have also seen strong growth in demand since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Other professional cleaning aids are, for example, professional cleaning robots for windows, swimming pools and solar panels.

Robotics plays an important role in the digitalization of agriculture with more than 8,000 units (+6%) sold in 2021. Robots are well established in cow milking, assisted by robot barn cleaners and robots power supply. Robots for growing crops are still in their infancy.

Service robots for consumer use

“Consumer service robots are mainly used in domestic environments: they help with vacuuming, cleaning floors or gardening, and are also used for social interaction and education,” explains the president. from the IFR, Marina Bill. “These service robots are produced for a mass market with completely different pricing and marketing compared to service robots for professional use.”

Robots for household chores were the largest group of consumer robots. Nearly 19 million units (+12%) were sold in 2021. Robot vacuums and other robots for cleaning domestic interior floors are currently the most widely used application. This type of service robot is available in almost all convenience stores, which makes it easily accessible to consumers. Today, gardening robots usually include lawn mowing robots. This market is expected to experience low double-digit annual growth on average over the next few years.

Home care robots that help an aging population stay independent at home are a growing niche market.

Structure of the service robotics industry

Although the service robotics industry is a young and growing industry, 87% of service robot producers worldwide are considered established operators before 2017. The share of start-ups has decreased in recent years because the industry has focused on software and applications. development. Many service robot vendors use third-party hardware to create a solution and therefore are not counted as a service robot producer in the IFR industry structure statistics.

Observation of the IFR market suggests two reasons for the decrease in the share of start-ups: Some market segments have already reached a level of maturity that sees companies develop, for example AMRs for the logistics of warehouse. In addition, the founding activities have shifted from hardware development to software development and application development. Many service applications are based on collaborative industrial robots, purchased from an industrial producer. The service robot supplier is therefore not considered a robot producer – the robot is purchased from a third party. These companies act as system integrators, combining different components and developing software to create a solution.

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