Robots are becoming more commonplace in the service industry for a variety of purposes thanks to recent advancements in fields like robotics, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and smart data centers. A recent coronavirus outbreak has increased the need for robots in businesses that offer contactless services despite the cultural norm of maintaining some degree of social distance, as most experts agree that their original purpose was only to increase production. Humans used to provide these services, but with the advent of advanced digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), and smart robots, humans are becoming increasingly unnecessary. You can find them in many places, including several hotels, airports, and grocery stores. For the better part of two years, the COVID-19 virus has been shining a light on the special strengths and advantages of robots in a wide variety of industries and service settings. These medical care robots not only make human workers’ lives easier, but also keep them safe.
Having been worth USD 23577.1 mn in 2020, the service robotics market is projected to grow to USD 212619.7 mn by 2026, expanding at a CAGR of 44.9% from 2021 to 2026. The evolution or, more precisely, the modernization of the robotics ecosystem has resulted in more appealing service robots with improved capabilities in the areas of manipulation, cognition, and interaction. Preferred Networks, a Tokyo-based company, supplies its artificial intelligence technology to Toyota Motor for use in its autonomous driving systems and to Fanuc for use in its robots. The rapid development of the medical technology sector in countries across the Asia-Pacific region, such as China and Japan, has resulted in a huge demand for service robots in this area. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan’s population of people 65 and older is expected to rise from 35.2 million in 2017 to an estimated 36.2 million in 2020. In particular, LG Electronics of South Korea has been conducting trials on robots that could eventually replace a sizable portion of the workforce in the service sector. In addition to performing tasks like checking guests in and out of hotels, delivering luggage, serving drinks and meals, and assisting customers in airport lounges, the robots are also capable of performing customer service roles.
Some Recent Key Barriers to the Service Robots Industry
For any robotics platform or market to succeed, reliability is essential. Autonomous equipment must not only be novel, but also superior to existing options in terms of efficiency, if it is to attract customers. One of the most pressing issues facing the industry today is the inability of its workers to relocate. Future robots will stand out from their analogs because of their fluid and unrestricted mobility. If service robots can perform this function for their owners, they will be seen as more reliable right away. Being mobile presents connectivity challenges, especially for robots built for outdoor tasks. The reason for this is that people cannot rely on the current network infrastructure because it is either too slow, too expensive, or too unreliable. Most robots cannot be successfully deployed in a rural area because they require constant access to the internet. Logistics and engineering face challenges when people can’t get around. As a result, service robots require continuous network connectivity; any disruptions in service will render the machines inoperable.
Cybersecurity is also growing in importance for robots in the service industry. Cybersecurity is a major concern in both the IoT and robotics because both collect and transmit sensitive data via trusted services. In fact, there is a higher chance that a public robot will be hacked than a private one. The safety of the robot relies on the integrity of the network to which it is connected. Cybercriminals are more likely to launch attacks on an unsecured network, and if the data isn’t encrypted, it can be easily accessed. In addition to stealing sensitive data, hackers can also take control of the robots. Customers may stop trusting robots providing customer service and miss out on getting urgently needed data.
It’s a fact that robots can finish jobs quickly and/or reliably; if they can’t, they won’t be able to keep customers interested for long. However, it can be difficult to ensure the robot’s absolute reliability due to the many external factors over which even manufacturers have no say. Location, external interference, connectivity, weather, and user error are just some of the variables that the manufacturer and engineer can’t manage.
The Current Market Scenario of Service Robots
Recent data from Counterpoint Research indicates that the international consumer service robots industry is expected to develop at a CAGR of 27% over the next four years, with shipments increasing by 25% YoY by the end of 2021. The availability of a wide variety of inexpensive gadgets and an evolution in customer taste were the driving forces behind the expansion. The aforementioned fact was highlighted by Senior Research Analyst Anshika Jain, who said, “Two-thirds of the consumer service robotics market is dominated by robots designed to clean houses, the most popular type of which is the robot vacuum. In response to the pandemic, the entire robotic vacuum industry has seen rising demand from home users.”
It’s no secret that advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are leading to cheaper software and hardware, which in turn is increasing the prevalence of robots in customer support. Moreover, computer recognition and speech recognition have made significant strides, which have contributed to the expansion as a whole. Anshika elaborated, noting that the items and the sector have benefited from the government’s support through investment and finance.
The education and personal category is expected to contribute the largest 54 percent by the end of 2025, and the report notes that shipments of consumer service robotics are expected to perk up at a CAGR of 27 percent between 2021 and 2025. The rising cost of providing care for the elderly, new approaches to education for children, and social security all fall into one bucket, making it the largest contributor. The average selling price (ASP) of these goods is expected to fall, making them more affordable for customers.
Counterpoint Research’s Research Vice President Peter Richardson explains why the aforementioned prediction will come true: “We calculate the market growth of education and personal robots will move beyond $4.5 billion by 2025, with an additional growth speculated beyond 2025 because of the aging population in several countries and enhanced focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)-based learning.” Robots built for these applications will include technologies that can be applied to other new markets as well.
In 2021, China was the largest market for consumer service robots, followed by North America and Europe. Vacuum robots made up the majority of the house cleaning version, which had growth of 21% and accounted for 68% of total shipments. Manufacturers like Roborocks, Ecovacs, and iRobot offer their own software and hardware platforms, and their respective businesses store all of their data on the cloud by merging with cloud service providers. In 2021, the market share for educational and companion robots will be 31%, up 33% from the previous year. Yet, in 2021, its $279 ASP was the lowest of any comparable product. Main drivers of expansion are the leisure and travel industries, K-12 education, age-related services, and social standards that encourage people to keep their distance from one another.
Because of expanding applications, the consumer service robots market has enormous promise in the years to come. The robotic vacuum cleaner market is one of the most developed and fastest growing in the industry. Yet, the future of medical robotics is uncertain because to the high costs involved and the unknowable consequences of the research and development that goes into them.