[OPE] The robots are coming!

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@telfort.nl)
Date: Mon May 12 2008 - 07:02:51 EDT

Worldwide: almost 1 million robots

The IFR Statistical Department estimates that there are now over 951,000 robots in
operation worldwide. Almost 50% of these are in Asia, a third in Europe, and 16% in North
America. Australasia and Africa each share about 1% of the total.

2007: growth of 10%

The IFR Statistical Department forecasts that in 2007, around 10% more industrial robots will
be sold worldwide than in 2006. In Europe, rising demand has already been registered,
particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, Germany and Italy. Investments by the
automotive industry have rebounded after two years of restraint. The trend towards further
automation is also noticeable in all other industries. Competition within the automotive
industry will drive robot sales to this sector in North America. Robot sales in Japan should
also increase. In China, demand will continue to increase, though at a slightly more moderate
rate. Demand in India, the ASEAN countries, and South America will increase at an above
average rate, however, a stagnation in sales is expected in the Republic of Korea.

The Future: robust growth

Between 2008 and 2010, robust growth of around 4% per annum is anticipated. Growth in
sales to the automotive industry will slow, however, the efforts by robot producers to provide
robotics solutions to industries outside the automotive have already led to increased demand
from general industry, and this will surely continue in the next few years. At the end of 2010 it
is thought that the total number of operational robots will reach 1.2 million units worldwide.

Service Robots

Up to the end of 2006 about 40,000 service robots for professional use were installed
worldwide. With more than 9,000 units the service robots in defense, rescue and security
applications accounted for the highest share of the total number of service robots for
professional use installed up to the end of 2006. The unmanned aerial and ground-based
vehicles for military use are the most established professional robots. Thereafter follow
milking robots, underwater systems, pool cleaning robots, demolition systems for the
construction industry, robot assisted surgery and mobile platform for general use.
Turning to the projections for the period 2007-2010, the stock of service robots for
professional use is forecast to increase by some 35,500 units. Application areas with strong
growth are military applications, field robots, cleaning robots, medical robots and mobile
robot platforms for multiple use.

About 3.5 million service robots for personnel/domestic use were sold up to 2006. So far,
service robots for personal and domestic use are mainly in the areas of domestic
(household) robots, which include vacuum cleaning and lawn-mowing robots, and
entertainment and leisure robots, including toy robots, hobby systems and education and
training robots.

Robots for handicap assistance have not yet taken off as could be expected given their
potential in regard to both the supposable need and the existing technological level of the
equipment. In a longer perspective, say in the next 10 years, and taking into account
demographic shifts and advances in technology, assistive robots for disabled and
handicapped persons are certain to be a key area for service robots. Important research
institutions are focussing on developing prototypes of this kind of robot.

It is projected that sales of all types of domestic robots (vacuum cleaning, lawn-mowing,
window cleaning and other types) in the period 2007-2010 could reach some 1.34 million
units. The market for entertainment and leisure robots, which includes toy robots, is forecast
at about 2.2 million units, most of which, of course, are very low cost.

Robots are coming! 

Robots are everywhere: Industrial robots - a key to automation -
are establishing in all industries. Service robots already entered our home. Service
Robots are establishing in many non-industrial branches. 
The World Robotics 2007 survey is now available for
download (partly free of charge) online at
www.worldrobotics.org. A printed version as well as
different levels of access can be ordered from the
website. Front-end access is provided to a database
containing information on robot installations and
inventories from 1993 to 2006, categorised by
countries, applications and industrial sectors.

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