Robots are now being increasingly adopted for service applications, both by consumers and professionals. The service robot market comprises many different types of robots, most of which can be used for applications in multiple industries.
At a consumer level, service robots are commonly used for tedious and repetitive tasks such as domestic chores, or for leisure and entertainment purposes. At a professional level, service robotics often represents an investment that has potential to significantly increase efficiency and reduce costs by replacing traditional methods. Industries that will experience changing dynamics due to the entrance of intelligent service robots include agriculture, construction, medical, logistics, hospitality, entertainment and domestic consumer goods.
Ten major segments of the service robot market are believed to hold great market potential looking at the next ten years. These include floor cleaning robots, robot lawn mowers, milking robots, telepresence robots, surgical robots, automated guided vehicles, autonomous mobile robots, unmanned aerial vehicles as well as humanoid, assistant and social companion robots. The installed base of service robots in these segments reached 29.6 million worldwide at the end of 2016.
Moreover, 0.1 million AGVs and 0.05 million milking robots are estimated to have been active worldwide at the end of 2016. The remaining segments including humanoid service robots, assistant robots and companion robots, telepresence robots, powered human exoskeletons, surgical robots and autonomous mobile robots are all estimated to have had less than 50,000 units installed each at the end of 2016. The strong market growth is expected to last for years to come, driving the number of active service robots worldwide to 264.3 million by 2026, which corresponds to CAGR of 24 percent between 2016 and 2026.
In recent years, many government and industry research funding programs have been initiated. Examples of such programs include the National Robotics Initiative in the US, the SPARC program in the EU, the Robot Revolution Initiative in Japan, the Made in China 2025 program and the Industry 4.0 program in Germany. Most of these programs are aimed at the larger field of robotics and automation.
Major companies such as Amazon, Intel, Google and IBM that have invested heavily into commercial service robots during the past decade are important for the future robotics development. However, the number of companies that can be regarded as startups in the service robotics industry is growing rapidly and their role in the industry is just as important as the large actors.