October 13, 2021
Research firm Interact Analysis is predicting that by the end of 2025, 2.1 million mobile robots will be deployed in more than 53,000 warehouses and factories. This compares to 2020, in which over 9,000 customer sites had mobile robots deployed.
The designation of mobile robots includes both autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) as well as automated guided vehicles (AGVs), which are older technology and not autonomous. Even with the 53,000 number seeming high, the firm said it is not even close to reaching the ceiling of market saturation. With 53,000 warehouses and factories having robots, that will still only represent less than 30% of the total market. “Furthermore, those penetration levels do not account for where facilities have multiple types of robots installed, nor the mass rollout of fleets in a single warehouse,” writes Ash Sharma, managing director of intelligent automation at Interact Analysis. “Given that, the opportunity for AGVs and AMRs is even larger.”
Sharma said the warehousing sector is poised to become a huge market for mobile robot vendors. Growth in the market resumed midway through 2020, with a 25% increase in 2020 and nearly 60,000 AGVs and AMRs being deployed worldwide. He added that further growth can still occur.
“Up until now, warehousing has been highly dependent on human labor, and we are going to see 30,000 new warehouses being built over the next five years,” said Sharma. “But warehousing isn’t the only sector where we expect to see major penetration by mobile robots. Manufacturing, notably automotive, will also invest heavily in mobile robotic solutions in the next few years.” He noted that as manufacturers begin to phase out internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, they will reconfigure assembly lines for the era of the electric vehicle. Automated solutions, including mobile robots, will play a significant part of this remodeling, Sharma said.
Interact Analysis also predicted that AMRs will see real growth through 2025, outpacing AGVs. But “QR Bots”, which are AMRs equipped with QR codes for navigation, will likely account for 50% of all shipments by 2025. AGVs are expected to drop under 25% by 2025, the firm added.
“Although the need for additional sensors adds cost to these machines, [AMRs] have particular advantages over AGVs, as there is no need for the operational infrastructure which AGVs require, and deployment can be much quicker,” said Sharma. “Sensors aside, the purchase price of a small sortation AMR can be as little as $4,000, and the average price for AMRs stands at approximately $20,000, compared to $75,000 for AGVs. The ‘natural navigation’ technology in the AMR is being applied to more and more robotic solutions, so gradually AGVs are being superseded by AMRs.”
Interact Analysis recently published its latest report on mobile robotics, which you can get a summary of here.