Nathan Jardine writes leaders for The Information Daily and Council News Monitor. After a lifetime in Fleet Street he now divides his time between homes in France and the north-west of England. He enjoys drinking, eating, sleeping and poking fun. His autobiography A Dog's Life is unaccountably out of print.


International Federation of Robotics forecasts sales of service robots up 12% in 2017


© YASAKAWA 2017 - Motoman dual arm robot performing biomedical lab tasks

Expenditure on service robots for professional use is predicted to rise to $US 5.2 billion.

And the long-term forecast is positive too, with an expected average growth rate of 20 to 25 percent in the period 2018 - 2020. That is the latest projection from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

“In terms of value, the sales forecast 2018-2020 indicates a cumulative volume of around $US27 billion for the professional service segment”, says Gudrun Litzenberger, General Secretary of the IFR. “Robots for medical, logistics and field services are the most significant contributors.”

At the same time, the market for personal service robots which assist humans in their everyday lives is also progressing rapidly; it is projected that sales of all types of robots for domestic tasks – e.g. vacuum cleaning, lawn mowing or window cleaning - could reach an estimated value of around 11 billion U.S. dollars (2018-2020).

“Robots are clearly on the rise, in manufacturing and increasingly in everyday environments”, says Martin Hägele, IFR Service Robot Group.” The growing interest in service robotics is partly due to the variety and number of new start-ups that currently account for 29% of all robot companies. Further­more, large companies are increasingly investing in robotics, often through the acquisition of start-ups.”

Service robot manufacturers and start-ups by regions

European service robot manufacturers play an important role in the global market: about 290 out of the 700 registered companies supplying service robots come from Europe. North America ranks second with about 240 manufacturers and Asia third with about 130.

Further progress will rely on entrepreneurs taking up disruptive technologies and deploying them for new applications and markets. In the US, about 200 start-up companies are working on new service robots. The European Union plus Switzerland count 170 companies that are creating a new entrepreneurial culture for the service robotics industry - followed by Asia with 135 start-ups. Virtually all economies are attempting to foster a vibrant entrepreneurial environment and the service robotics industry has become one of the focus areas of their public policies.

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