CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
February 25, 2020
Forward Thinking

Robotics growth goes mobile

Of the 8 million robots forecast to be shipped in 2030, nearly 6 million will be mobile, researcher says.

Researchers are predicting a transformation of the robotics market over the next 10 years, as growth shifts from fixed automation to mobile systems across a range of industries, according to the most recent robotics tracker report from ABI Research, released December 10. 

London-based ABI says the global robotics market will reach a total valuation of $277 billion by 2030, and that the growth is increasingly going mobile. The report forecasts that 8 million robots will be shipped in 2030 and that 6 million of them will be mobile. Rising demand from all sectors of the global economy is pushing adoption of mobile robotics beyond its current concentration in supply chain material handling applications, the researcher said.

ABI points to growing demand for Automated Mobile Robots (AMRs), which incorporate sensors and advanced navigation, compared to Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), which rely on external guidance, as an example. Although AGVs represent the majority of mobile robot shipments today, that is set to change by 2030. The researcher predicts that there will be 2.5 million AGVs shipped in 2030 compared with 2.9 million AMRs. The shift is being driven by falling costs for superior navigation and the desire to "build flexibility into robotic fleets," the researcher said. Those changes are making robots more attractive to a wider range of end markets.

"Many new verticals, like hospitality, delivery, and infrastructure, will demand systems that do not require external physical infrastructure to move about," according to Rian Whitton, senior analyst at ABI Research. "While AGVs will thrive in intralogistics for fulfillment, especially in greenfield warehouses, AMRs solve the challenges faced by many end-users by offering incremental automation that does not require a complete change of environmental infrastructure."

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