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 Asia with 30%. At the same time, sales of new consumer service robots grew 9%, according to the “World Robotics 2022 – Service Robots” report from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).
Service robots for professional use
“Service robots for professional use are very diverse,” says Marina Bell, President of IFR. “They are usually designed to perform a specific task and can be found in warehouses, hospitals, airports or even assisting dairy farms that automatically milk cows.”
Five of the best apps for professional service bots by units sold:
About 121,000 professional service robots were sold in 2021 – more than one in three built were intended to transport merchandise or merchandise. Most are used in indoor environments such as factories, where the general public can’t reach them, so these robots are not designed to handle general traffic. A total of 286 companies produce service robots in this category.
Hospitality robots are increasingly popular but compared to market potential, sales numbers are still low: more than 20,000 units (+85%) were sold in 2021. Robots in this category are either used for food and drink preparation or for mobile guidance, information, and telepresence.
Sales of medical robots increased 23% to 14,823 units. The majority of them are surgical robots, followed by robots for rehabilitation and non-surgical treatment, while the share of robots for diagnosis is still relatively low.
Demand for professional cleaning robots grew by 31%. Sales of over 12,600 units have been reported. The main application in this group is floor cleaning. Disinfection robots that spray disinfectant liquids or use ultraviolet rays to destroy viruses have also seen strong demand since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other professional cleaning assistants, for example, professional window and pool and solar panel cleaning robots.
Robots play an important role in the digitization of agriculture with over 8000 units (+6%) sold in 2021. Robots are well established in milking cows, with the help of robotic barn cleaners and feeding robots. Robots for growing crops are still in their early days.
Service bots for consumer use
“Consumer service robots are used primarily in home environments: they help with vacuuming, cleaning floors or gardening, and they are also used for social interaction and education,” says Marina Bell, President of IFR. “These service robots are produced for a mass market at very different prices and marketing compared to service robots for professional use.”
Robots for household tasks constituted the largest group of consumer robots. Almost 19 million units (+12%) were sold in 2021. The use of vacuum cleaner robots and other robots to clean indoor household floors is currently the most widely used application. This type of service robot is available in almost every store, making it easier for consumers to access it. Today, gardening robots usually consist of lawn mowers. This market is expected to grow at low double-digit growth rates on average every year for the next few years.
Home care robots that support elderly residents to remain independent in their homes is a growing niche market.
Service robotics industry structure
Although the service robotics industry is a young and growing industry, 87% of service robot producers worldwide are considered to be established companies that were created before 2017. The share of start-ups has been decreasing in recent years due to a shift in the industry’s focus towards software and application development. Many service robot suppliers use third-party hardware to create a solution, and therefore are not counted as a service robot product in the IFR industry structure statistics.
The IFR observation of the market points to two reasons for the declining share of startups: some market segments have already achieved a level of maturity that sees companies growing, for example AMRs for warehouse logistics. Furthermore, foundational activities have shifted away from hardware development towards software development and application development. Many service applications rely on collaborative industrial robots, which are purchased from an industrial producer. So the service robot supplier is not considered a robot producer – the robot is purchased from a third party. These companies act like systems integrators, combining different components and software development to create a solution.
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