Sales record for service robots

Between 2018 and 2019, the global sales value of professional service robots increased by 32% to 11.2 billion US dollars. These figures have been presented by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) in its “World Robotics – Service Robots 2020” report.

Medical robots accounted for 47% of the total professional service robot turnover in 2019. This was mainly driven by robotic surgery systems, which are the most expensive type of medical robotics. By 2022, medical robot sales have the potential to more than double by reaching 11.3 billion US dollars. About 90% of medical robots are from American and European suppliers. The market value of logistics robots sold or leased rose by 110% to 1.9 billion US dollars. Almost all of the logistics turnover was generated with robots for indoor use. Autonomous mobile robots have initially been used in warehouses. Due to the digitisation of production, they are now also part of smart factories. Thus, the IFR considers a continued strong annual turnover growth of 40% or more for logistics robots possible.

The trending Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) business models lower the hurdle for customers to automate with robots, according to the report. The benefit of using RaaS instead of buying robots is that companies have no fixed capital, no fixed costs, and no need for robot operators. The use of logistics systems in non-manufacturing industries has been strongly driven by warehouse solutions for major e-commerce companies. A strong potential can also be found in hospitals running their logistics with the help of professional service robots. In the segment of professional service robotics, about 90% of the sampled logistics robots were produced in Europe and North America, and about 10% in Asia.

© Thomas Plettenberg for Messe München / Source: International Federation of Robotics

The segment of field robotics consists of robots for agriculture, dairy, livestock farming and other field applications. Sales value increased by 3% to 1.3 billion US dollars. According to the IFR experts, the COVID-19 pandemic might increase demand for field robots. Travel restrictions for workers from Eastern Europe, for instance, who usually travel to Western Europe in harvest season, caused a shortage of labour supply. Farmers might compensate this with the use of field robots. Sales value growth rates of more than 30% for agricultural robots seem possible.

Service robots for personal and domestic use are mainly produced for a mass market in the area of household robots. This includes vacuuming and floor cleaning robots, lawn-mowing robots or entertainment robots. The total number of service robots for personal and domestic use increased by 34% to more than 23.2 million units sold in 2019. The value grew by 20% to 5.7 billion US dollars. Unit prices for the two major segments, robot vacuums and toy robots, have been declining in recent years. Today, basic robot vacuums are already available for less than 100 US dollars. 75% of the sampled domestic service robots – vacuum and floor cleaners, lawn mowers and other domestic robots – were produced by American companies in 2019. Asian companies had a share of 19%, European companies of 6%.

A growing market is the use of assistance robots for elderly or handicapped persons. The estimated sales value increased by 17% to 91 million US dollars.

In addition, the IFR experts expect that the COVID-19 pandemic will further boost the market for service robots. They envisage high demand in areas like robotics disinfection solutions, robotic logistics solutions in factories and warehouses as well as robots for home delivery.

Further information

IFR press release –