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Global robotics market set to hit $87bn by 2025

Amit Katwala

(Credit: Onfokus/iStock)
(Credit: Onfokus/iStock)

A report from industry analysts Boston Consulting Group predicts that global spending on robotics will hit $87bn by 2025, an increase of $20bn on their previous prediction from 2014.

The change has largely been driven by a project increase in consumer demand, as well as falling prices and an increase in private investment in robotics. 
The report, entitled Gaining Robotics Advantage, predicts accelerated growth in the consumer and commercial fields, while projections for military and industrial robots have not changed since 2014.  
The consumer sector has accounted for 40% of new robotics companies founded since 2012. "The adoption is much faster than what we anticipated," Vlad Lukic, one of the report's authors, told Professional Engineering
"Processing power is becoming cheaper at a faster rate, so that's one driver. For example, the Phantom drone was $1500 this time last year, it's now $800 - almost half. Prices are dramatically going down."
Coupled with that, according to Lukic, is more widespread take-up of products which have been too expensive or niche until now. Take Roomba, the robotic vacuum cleaner, for instance. "It was a fairly niche thing and it's now going mainstream," he says. "Everybody is buying these things."
The products themselves are getting better, and easier to use, with new features constantly being added. "The features and what these automated devices can do are more accurate. The fidelity is better, the dexterity is better - they're nimbler, they're easier to configure, the user interfaces are similar."
One thing we might see more of is companies with different types of expertise joining together, as demonstrated by SoftBank - who are most noted for their work on human interaction - recently acquiring Boston Dynamics, who have pioneered walking robots. "I'm anticipating that," says Lukic. "There's a question of execution around how well they will be able to integrate the different engineering teams." 
The report predicts the market for industrial robots to reach $24.4bn by 2025, but has not changed its predictions since 2014. "Our industry projections in manufacturing are fairly steady because those guys have been doing a lot of this stuff for the last 20 years," said Lukic. "Where we're going to see a big shift is in the highly manual and highly discrete manufacturing operations." That means robots being used on production lines where there's a lot of customisation, or a rise in collaborative robots that work alongside humans to streamline the process.
The report encourages companies to 'lean in' to automation to gain a competitive advantage. "Those who lean in and deploy these technologies, it's going to make them much more flexible and nimbler if they do it in a smart way," said Lukic.

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