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Task robot development flourishing in Asia

Posted: 11 Apr 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:robotics? processors? microcontrollers? sensors?

The market for consumer robots will continue to be dominated by task, entertainment and security/telepresence segments as it goes over the $6 billion mark by 2017, ABI Research predicts. iRobot is still the main player, but more Asian-based companies are coming out with competing products and newer products like window-cleaning robots.

"We are seeing more personal robot R&D from Western companies and more task robot development from Asian companies, which is a reversal of past development trends," noted research director Philip Solis. The consumer robots market was valued at $1.6 billion in 2012.

Earlier this year, VietNamNet Bridge reported that Vietnamese scientists have had significant achievements related to kinematics, sensors, actuators and intelligence control though available infrastructure remains outdated making production costs too expensive. However, local frontrunner Tosy is getting recognition with foreign partners expressing interest in global distribution. (See Vietnam sees promising future with industrial robots.)

Application processors and the array of sensors used in smartphones and media tablets have achieved significant economies of scale for components that consumer robotics will leverage. The market for processors, microcontrollers, sensors, and physical components including actuators, servos, and manipulators was a little over $700 million in 2012 and will grow by five times that amount by 2017. The semiconductor portion of that is well over a third and will grow as products become more complex and capable.

While the market for consumer robots is trudging ahead and growing, the lingering stagnant global economy has suppressed its market potential. There are also some safety concerns holding back the market, such as the additional cost of diverse redundancy for sensors. Additionally, the applications and business models for more general personal robots needs to be worked out. Home eldercare is being targeted first for insurance- and retirement income-related potential.

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