According to the technology market advisory firm ABI Research, the collaborative robots (cobots) market had a global valuation of $475 million in 2020 and this is set to expand to $600 million in 2021 and $8 billion in 2030, with a projected compound annual growth (CAGR) of 32.5%.
ABI Research attributes this to the cobots’ ease of use, redeployability, and convenience to end-users who struggle to afford more traditional forms of automation.
“The most direct benefit of cobots is not in their ability to collaborate with humans,” said Rian Whitton, principal analyst at ABI Research. “Rather, it is in their relative ease of use, improved interface, and the ability of end-users to redeploy them for different tasks.”
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These findings are from ABI Research’s Cobots for Flexible Automation application analysis report. This report is part of the company’s Industrial, Commercial & Collaborative Robotics research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights.
Companies like Universal Robots have been pushing the technology to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) because it offers flexibility and incremental automation where the maintenance cost is “not prohibitive.”
Universal Robots is currently the dominant player in the market, with 50% of the total shipments and posting $219 million revenue for 2020, but challengers like FANUC, ABB, and others are beginning to catch up after initially lagging in the space. They have done this by improving the user interface and the usability of their systems
“The barriers between cobots and standard industrial robots are beginning to break down, as many vendors are experimenting with dual-mode robots that can have a cobot and industrial mode,” said Whitton. “What is more, cobots are beginning to develop heavier payloads, in line with evolving regulations.”.
ABI Research projects that cobots are going to significantly expand the potential for automation for SMEs, while also enabling large vendors to develop a more flexible production line based on movable platforms and no need for fencing. The major industrial automation vendors will enjoy a greater share of the market as they utilize their existing partnerships and pour more resources into new cobot products.