Collaborative robots: market leaders, forecast and challenges

Collaborative robot arms to reach $5.8 billion in annual revenue by 2027

Collaborative robots: market leaders, forecast and challenges. Source: shutterstock.com

Most onlookers of the robotics industry hear of collaborative robots.

Cobots are smaller, more dexterous industrial robotic arms that open the possibility between human and machine collaboration without the need for complex programming or external safety infrastructure.

In reality, the value of current collaborative robotics is somewhat more modest. Collaborative systems are not a revolution in robotics but are instead a parallel technology that has some advantages over traditional industrial arms, and some disadvantages, according to a new report from ABI Research.

The report projects that collaborative robot arms to reach $5.8 billion in annual revenue by 2027, with $2 billion of that dedicated to the automotive and automotive components manufacturing space. There are additional sources of revenue related to software and End of Arm Tooling (EOAT), and ABI Research also notes that collaborative systems will increasingly become indistinguishable from conventional industrial robotic arms, potentially opening the market to a much higher valuation.

Challenges remain for the industry. There are well over 50 major collaborative robot providers, and in this highly saturated space, the lack of differentiation between products is a significant problem.

The most impressive provider in this space is currently Universal Robots, which has very successfully shifted from an arm supplier to a platform provider through their ecosystem incubator UR+. This has helped provide clarity and a central robotic system that can be retrofitted with a wide plethora of vision systems, software applications, and EOAT. While UR is innovating on the platform level, companies like Precise Automation and Productive Robotics are developing improved mechatronics which innovates collaborative systems from the ground up, making them safer and more cost-effective. In the Asian market, Techman Robot of Taiwan and Doosan Robotics of Korea are making impressive gains in the electronics space, and Asia will soon surpass Europe as the key market for collaborative systems. Among the principal beneficiaries of this will be Chinese vendors like Siasun and Elephant Robotics, who are developing price-competitive products that will be open to a vast domestic market.

Overall, onlookers should not think of collaborative robotics as a replacement for industrial robots, but as a parallel technology development that will eventually converge.

SEE ALSO: Robots in stores: shopping of the future

facebook