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The robotics industry market is expected to register a CAGR of 13.5% during the forecast period (2020 - 2025). Robots have gained immense popularity in both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing environments globally.

  • Robots continue to gain popularity for their productivity and profitability, especially driven by the automation policies and the Industry 4.0 initiatives globally. According to the World Robotics report presented by the International Federation of Robotics, operatinal stock of industrial robots is expected to reach 3788 thousand units by 2021.
  • The market is further expanding into new territories, with small- and medium-sized industries adopting automation, thereby creating demand for robots. The availability of small-capacity and cost-effective solutions from major providers is enabling the penetration of robots into industries.
  • Warehouses are susceptible to accidents. According to OSHA, “Slips, trips, and falls constitute the majority of general industry accidents. They cause 15% of all accidental deaths, and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities." Robots in warehouses assist with alleviating workers of the inhuries caused by physical fatigue. Many of these machines are specifically designed to lift heavy objects.
  • The spread of COVID-19 has positively impacted the market. This is because companies are using robots to increase social distancing and reduce the number of staff that have to physically come to work. Robots are also being used to perform roles workers cannot do at home. For instance, Walmart is using robots to scrub its floors.Robots in South Korea have been used to measure temperatures and distribute hand sanitiser.

Key Market Trends

Automated Tow/Tractor/Tugs to Dominate the Market

  • The tow/tractor/tug type of mobile robot is a key element in intralogistics operations, and it requires minor customizations. It can be used for multiple tasks, such as semi-automatic pickup in warehouses, transporting raw materials to production line, or dispatching end-products for transportation (loading and unloading). ?
  • The major applications of tugs are primarily in the general manufacturing industry, the automotive industry, and the metal processing and casting sector, along with the airport sector. It is the most powerful of all the other types of AGVs, and tugs are often deployed to handle heavy loads.?
  • Furthermore, mobile robots gained immense popularity in the aviation industry, primarily for transporting baggage tractors and guiding heavy planes to the runway. The Heathrow airport is one of the first airports to deploy these AGVs for handling aircraft. ?
  • Reportedly, British Airways installed five tugs, supplied by Mototok, at Heathrow’s Terminal 5. The terminal authorities indicated that the tugs are capable of running for about three days on a single recharge. This not only marks the high efficiency levels of mobile robots, but also helps the Heathrow airport in reducing emissions, in order to be more eco-friendly. ?
  • Autonomous tugs are gaining popularity for port operations. In October 2019, Europe-based ABB partnered with Singaporean shipyard Keppel Offshore & Marine to enable autonomous tug operations by the end of 2020. The companies are expected to jointly develop the technology for autonomous vessels and retrofit a 32-meter harbor tugboat with digital solutions, enabling autonomous vessel operations. ?

United States to Occupy Significant Market Share

  • An increase in warehouse automation, rising adoption of automated material handling, and trends, like lights-out automation, are some of the major factors driving the growth of the market studied in North America. In an industrial aspect, the rising labor costs, waning employee productivity, and the need for building larger distribution centres, mainly to accommodate the expanding logistics and storage are some significant factors fueling the demand for automated guided vehicles (AGV) in the region.?
  • The vendors in the market studied consider United States as a promising market. The country has some of the most automated industries in the world. The regional end-user industries are some of the pioneers in terms of adoption of advanced technologies. Many end-user companies played significant roles in terms of development of the mobile robots market at the global level.?
  • Growth of regional e-commerce and logistic companies is expected to drive the market’s growth. Due to the expansion of these industries, stock-keeping units (SKUs) are witnessing significant growth. Thus, it is difficult for the wholesalers and distributors to make informed decisions about their operations. This drives the need for smarter use of workforce and equipment.?
  • According to the National Association of Manufacturers’ Second Quarter 2019 Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, about 68.8% of the respondents stated that their top business challenge is the inability to attract and retain a quality workforce, and around 75% of the respondents stated that they have unfilled positions within their company that they are struggling to fill with qualified applicants.?
  • Thus, the North American region as a whole has been investing heavily in autonomous robots and vehicles in their warehouse and manufacturing facilities since the past few years. For instance, according to the RIA’s data, 35,880 robots were shipped, in 2018, to Canada, along with the United States and Mexico, an increase of 7% from the previous year. Of those shipments, 16,702 were directed to non-automotive companies, a Y-o-Y increase of 41%.?

Competitive Landscape

The robotics market is highly competitive and consists of several major players. In terms of market share, few of the major players currently dominate the market. These major players with a prominent share in the market are focusing on expanding their customer base across foreign countries. These companies are leveraging on strategic collaborative initiatives to increase their market share and increase their profitability.

  • March 2020 - UVD Robots is making robots that are able to disinfect patient rooms and operating theaters in hospitals. Each robot is a mobile array of powerful short wavelength UVC lights that emit enough energy to eliminate the DNA or RNA of any microorgamism.
  • January 2020 - Scientists have created the world’s first living, self-healing robots -- Xenobots, using stem cells from frogs. As biological machines, xenobots are more environmentally friendly and safer for human health.The xenobots could potentially be used toward a host of tasks, according to the study, which was partially funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
  • August 2019 - The European Commission-funded EUR 3 million SHERO (Self HEaling soft RObotics) project led by the Free University of Brussels (VUB) and the University of Cambridge, is developing a new generation of robots that can ’self-heal’ its jelly-like robotic arms.

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