Home Bots & Business Staff Shortage Boosts Service Robots – Sales Up 48%

Staff Shortage Boosts Service Robots – Sales Up 48%

by Marco van der Hoeven

The total number of service robots sold for professional use hit 158,000 units in 2022 – an increase of 48%. Shortage of staff is a strong driver for companies to automate.

“The service robot industry is developing at a fast pace,” says Marina Bill, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “Shortage of skilled workers and a lack of staff applying for service jobs boosts demand. IFR identified almost 1,000 service robot suppliers worldwide delivering autonomous services.”

Five top applications

Mobile robot solutions in transportation and logistics established a strong market share: more professional service robots were built for the transportation of goods or cargo, than any other function. Sales grew by 44% with more than 86,000 units sold in 2022. Robot sales for open indoor environments with public traffic were up 78% and reached almost 37,300 units. Many of these robots are intended for food and beverage delivery in restaurants.

Hospitality robots enjoy growing popularity: More than 24,500 units (+125%) were sold in 2022. Robots for mobile guidance, information, and telepresence account for most of these robots.

Sales of medical robots were down 4% to about 9,300 units. Almost 4,900 surgery robots (+5%) were sold, but sales of robots for rehabilitation and noninvasive therapy were down 16% to less than 3,200 robots.

Robotics sales in agriculture grew by 18% with almost 8,000 units shipped in 2022. More than 5,800 robots (+9%) were sold for agricultural tasks like milking and barn cleaning. The lack of human workforce in agricultural regions and demand for more sustainable agriculture make service robots a key player in this market.

The market for professional cleaning robots grew by 8% and reached almost 6,900 units sold. The main application is floor cleaning with 4,900 units sold – up 10%. This represents more than 70% of shipments in this application group.

Consumer use

Service robots for consumer use are produced for a mass market, which makes it a very different segment compared to service robots for professional use. Sales of robots for consumer use reached about 5.1 million units in 2022 vs. 158,000 units sold for professional use.

Today, we find the strongest consumer demand in areas of domestic household robots. Almost 4.9 million robots were sold in 2022. The most used application is indoor domestic floor cleaning with about 2.8 million robots sold. Robot vacuums are common in private households for many years now. Apart from cyclical volatility, IFR´s statistical department predicts growth potential in the low double-digit range over the next few years.

Like robot vacuums, gardening robots are already familiar in people´s daily live: Sales of lawn mowing robots reached 1.1 million units in 2022.

Social interaction and education robots are the second largest consumer application group with 157,000 units sold in 2022. While sales of education robots reached almost 104,000 units, shipments of social interaction and companion robots were reported with about 53,000 units.

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