News story

Robotics goes mobile

Tuesday, 7 January 2020 ( #957 ) - Chicago, IL, United States
AGV developers like Geek+ are deploying thousands of robots yearlyGeek+ showcased new products
AGV developers like Geek+ are deploying thousands of robots yearlyGeek+ showcased new products
The robotics market is set to transform over the next 10 years. That's according to Automation World which cites research indicating enormous growth across all subsectors.

By 2022, the burgeoning mobile robotics space will start to overtake the traditional industrial robotics market. Currently, mobile autonomy is concentrated in materials handling within the supply chain, but mobile robots are set to touch every sector of the global economy for a wide range of use cases.

"Everyone talks about self-driving passenger vehicles, but mobile automation is far more developed in intralogistics for fulfilment and industry," says Rian Whitton, senior analyst at ABI Research. "The automation of materials handling will see huge segments of the global forklift, tow truck and indoor vehicle market consumed by robotics vendors and OEMs that bring indoor autonomy."

The report identifies Amazon Robotics as the leader that has driven growth in mobile robotics for the last seven years since its acquisition of Kiva Systems. With an estimated 256,000 automated guided vehicles (AGVs) deployed to date, Amazon holds close to 50% of materials handling robot marketshare and is broadening its portfolio of robot subtypes with autonomous mobile robots for transport and delivery.

Other major AGV developers, like Quicktron, JD.com, Geek+ and Grey Orange, are deploying thousands of robots yearly, while automated mobile robot (AMR) developers are just beginning to scale up. Brain Corp. has deployed 5,000 systems primarily in retail, while BlueBotics has deployed some 2,000 robots for intralogistics in and around the supply chain. Meanwhile MiR, an AMR company acquired by Teradyne in 2018, is beginning to achieve growth rates in excess of the company's other robotics acquisition of major cobot developer Universal Robots.

Experts estimate that 2.5 million AGVs will be shipped in 2030, while the total shipments of AMRs will reach 2.9 million in the same year. This is due to the declining costs of superior navigation and the desire to build flexibility into robotic fleets.

"As mature sectors of the robotics industry achieve growth more in line with established technology markets, mobile robotics are set to create lasting transformative effects across the supply chain and will become increasingly ubiquitous throughout the global economy," says Whitton.
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