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IFR: Military Systems and Milking Robots Predominate

POSTED 09/09/2011

e than 13,700 service robots for professional use were sold in 2010, 4% more than in 2009, reports the IFR Statistical Department in the new study “World Robotics 2011 – Service Robots”, which was published recently in Frankfurt. The sales value increased by 15% to US$3.2 billion. 

Military and agricultural applications predominate
With about 6,000 units, service robots in defense (military) applications accounted for 45% of the total number of service robots for professional use sold in 2010. Thereof, unmanned aerial vehicles are the most important application. The value of defense robots can only roughly be estimated at US$ 696 million in 2010. This is about 22% of the total sales of professional service robots. The total number of field robots - mainly milking robots - sold in 2010 was almost 4,200 units, accounting for a share of 30% of the total unit supply of professional service robots. The sales value for field robots was about US$ 744 million, accounting for about 24% of the total value of professional service robot sales. 75% of the total unit sales of professional service robots in 2010 were defense or field robots.

Sales of medical robots in 2010 increased by 14% compared to 2009 to 932 units, accounting for a share of 7% of the total sales of professional service robots. The most important applications are robot assisted surgery and therapy. The total sales value of medical robots was up by 33% to US$1.361 million, accounting for 43% of the total sales value of professional service robots. Medical robots are the most valuable service robots with an average unit price of about US$1.5 million, including related equipment and services. The use of logistic systems in factories, hospitals, public buildings and outdoor areas, e.g. in ports, increased by 10% to more than 900 units. Sales of all other professional service robots were less than 500 units in 2010.

The number of service robots for professional use will increase to 87,500 units between 2011 and 2014
Turning to the projections for the period 2011 to 2014, sales are forecast to increase by about 87,500 professional service robots in total. Thereof, more than 25,500 milking robots are deemed to be sold in the period 2011-2014, followed by service robots for defense applications with more than 22,600 units. This is probably a rather conservative estimate. These two service robot groups make up 55% of the total forecast for the professional service robots.

A strong growing sector will be the mobile platforms in general use. Service robot suppliers estimate that about 12,000 mobile platforms in general use will be sold in the period 2011-2014. These mobile platforms are purchased as stand-alone components for the design of highly customized service robot solutions. The variety of their sensors together with an able navigation system allows mobile platforms to freely move in different environments to perform various tasks such as data-acquisition. Adding additional manipulation capabilities such as a robot arm or simple lifting mechanism enables direct interaction with the environment as well as modifying it. If additionally the platforms possess network communication capabilities, a wide range of interaction concepts can be designed. 

Sales of logistic systems and medical robots will also increase considerably in this period. The value of professional service robots between 2011 and 2014 is estimated at about US$ 14 billion in total.

“Future robot systems will be aimed at supporting citizens in key areas of activity: service robots in the professional domain will reduce physical workloads and will intervene in hazardous or life-critical environments; robot companions will improve personal well-being, security, comfort and entertainment.” stated Martin Hägele, Chairman of the IFR Service Robot Group.

Service robots for personal/domestic use will continue to increase
So far, service robots for personal and domestic use are mainly in the areas of domestic (household) robots, which include vacuum cleaning, lawn-mowing, entertainment and leisure robots, including toy robots, hobby systems, education and research. In 2010, about 540,000 service robots for personal/domestic use were sold. Some 14.4 million units may be added in the period 2011-2014. Sales value in the forecasted period will be about US$ 5.4 billion. 

Do you have any questions? Gudrun Litzenberger, IFR Statistical Department, Telephone +49 69 66 03-1502 is ready to respond to your questions or concerns.

World Robotics 2011 Industrial Robots and Service Robots can be ordered at

The International Federation of Robotics was established in 1987 in connection with the 17th International
Symposium on Robotics, as a professional non-profit organisation, by robotics organisations from over 15
countries. Since 1970 an International Symposium on Robotics is organised every year on a different continent, in a different country and another city. The Symposium is systematically organised in conjunction with an
International Robot Exhibition.

The purpose of the International Federation of Robotics is to promote research, development, use and
international co-operation in the entire field of robotics to act as a focal point for organisations and governmental representatives in activities related to robotics.

The IFR is hosted by VDMA Robotics and Automation.

The IFR Statistical Department, which is hosted by the VDMA Robotics + Automation Association, publishes two
studies of World Robotics every year. In 2010:

1. World Robotics 2011 Industrial Robots:
This unique publication presents comprehensive global statistics on industrial robots in uniform tables allowing consistent country comparisons. It contains detailed statistical data for some 40 countries, broken down by application areas, industrial branches, types of robots and by other technical and economic variables. Data on production, exports and imports are presented for a selection of countries. Trends in robot densities, i.e. number of robots per 10,000 persons employed in relevant sectors, are also featured.

2. World Robotics 2011 Service Robots:
This unique publication presents comprehensive global statistics on service robots, market analysis, case studies and international research strategies of service robots. The study is evaluated in cooperation with our partner, the Fraunhofer IPA, Stuttgart, Germany.