Advancements in robotic and control technology now make it possible for industrial robots to expand beyond their traditional manufacturing and automation roles, to support whole new classes of applications, and by extension, new markets. Perhaps the best example of this trend is the development and use of collaborative robots, systems designed to work safely in close proximity and cooperatively with human coworkers, especially in manufacturing environments.
The collaborative robotics segment is growing rapidly as new suppliers, technologies, and investors enter the market. As is common with other hot technology sectors, this has resulted in a great deal of “noise” in the robotics community, as well as in the business and investment press. This results in increased risk, missed opportunities, and confusion among all members of the collaborative robotics value chain.
The collaborative robotics sector is expected to increase roughly tenfold between 2015 and 2020, reaching over $1 billion from approximately $95 million in 2015, according to a new study published by ABI Research entitled Collaborative Robotics: State of the Market / State of the Art. The growth will be fueled by three key markets: electronics manufacturers and electronics manufacturing services companies, small-to-medium manufacturers, and manufacturers seeking robotic solutions optimized to support agile production methodologies.
According to Dan Kara, Practice Director, Robotics at ABI Research, “Collaborative robotic systems, such as ABB’s YuMi and Gomtec / Roberta platforms, Rethink Robotics’ Baxter and Sawyer, Universal Robots (Teradyne) UR family of robots, KUKA’s LBR iiwa and Kawada Industries’ Nextage, were developed in response to a number of pressing social drivers and businesses imperatives, and aided by ongoing technological innovation and dropping prices for powerful enabling technology. The sector is very dynamic and is expanding rapidly with new product offerings being released into the market from both established companies and smaller, emerging firms. Larger firms are actively acquiring smaller companies with proven technology.”