Mobile robotics expected to fuel industry growth in robotics market

Rapid growth in mobile robotics is expected to fuel the robotics industry as a whole according to an IDTechEx Research report, with the market projected to exceed $120 billion by 2026.

By Dr. Jon Harrop, IDTechEx Research January 21, 2016

A report by IDTechEx Research, "Robotics 2016-2026," which focuses on the future of robotics, applications, technologies and markets, projects that the worldwide market for robots is expected to reach over $120 billion by 2026.

A variety of independent technological advances in batteries, power electronics, motors, sensors, processors, artificial intelligence and other fields are now creating an environment where robotics can finally surge ahead in many different ways, solving a wide variety of problems that traditional industrial robots could not possibly have solved. The biggest trend will be mobile robotics. Over the next decade, the statically-mounted robots of today will become a minority as next generation robots travel across the ground, in the air and even across oceans and in space.

Autonomous unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) will transfer goods not only within warehouses but down highways alongside conventional passenger vehicles and around mines and quarries with only minimal human intervention as well as harvesting crops and mowing our lawns. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will bring Internet access to millions of people in remote locations, bring emergency medical attention to those in need and monitor and dust our crops. Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) will be used to mine the ocean floors for precious minerals and coast guards around the world will employ autonomous robotic lifeboats for search and rescue.

Although mobile robots will be the single biggest trend, static robots will continue to evolve. For example, surgical robots have already made inroads in some specific laparoscopic procedures but many companies are bringing more surgical robots to market for different kinds of operations. Also, the worldwide push for STEM education has robotics as a core topic. What were once expensive high-end machines a few decades ago are being modularized into interoperable parts and commoditized as they are mass produced. This, in turn, is making robotics affordable for everyone and is facilitating the teaching of robotics in schools and the development of next-generation robots by hobbyists.

Societal trends will also play a factor. The aging population will benefit from surgical robots, lab robots for medicine and robotically-manufactured replacement bionic parts. They are also expected to benefit from the development of service robots designed to help the elderly at home. Many robots will serve multiple functions. For example, Internet-enabled robotic vacuum cleaners for the home are already being designed with security features, which allow them to photograph unusual changes in the home, such as an intruder, and send the images to the homeowner.

– Dr. Jon Harrop, Director, IDTechEx Research. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media,

ONLINE extras

– Read the IDTechEx report, "Robotics 2016-2026," to learn more.

See additional Control Engineering robotics stories.