Interesting facts and stats you need to know about robotics

Robots, or robotics perhaps, have been a source of fear as well as enthusiasm for many years, and Hollywood has always swung from one end to the next.

Films such as I, Robot hold a terrible future, where robots strip people of their free will, whereas Chappie praises robots as the ultimate hope of humanity for avoiding extinction. For years, film robots have crossed the line between saviors and villagers, so we wonder how a world full of robots would be.

A study at Oxford University predicts that over the next 20 years, 47 percent of U.S. jobs can be automated. As scary as that sounds, robotic automation occurs— quickly. An estimated $1.5 billion market will emerge in 2019 for consumer and business robots, which will grow seven times as fast as the robot manufacturing market. Robots will continue to play an increasingly important role in our daily lives, whether it is or not.

In this post, we will look at some of the interesting facts and stats about robotics.

  • The word “robot” comes from the Czech word robota, which means “forced labor.” It originally referred to peasants, who were obligated to work for their lords under the Fuedal system.
  • The first use of the word robot was in the 1920 play “R.U.R.: Rossum’s Universal Robots” by Czech writer Karel Čapek. In the play, the robots overthrow their human creators.
  • One of the earliest examples of robotic design dates back to 1478 and Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci’s car was a spring-driven autonomous system that was probably created, more than anything, to cause a sensation at court.
  • The terms “android” and “robot” tend to be used somewhat interchangeably, but they actually have very distinct meanings.
  • The world’s first robot company was founded in 1956 by George Devol and Joseph Engelberger. The company was called Unimation, and they introduced the first industrial robot.
  • The first known case of anyone being killed by a robot occurred in 1981 when a robotic arm crushed a Japanese Kawasaki factory worker. The worker’s death was ruled an accident.
  • According to Loup Ventures research, the industrial robotics market is expected to grow by 175% over the next decade. 34% of the industrial robots sold by 2025 will be collaborative – designed to work safely alongside humans in factories and plants.
  • In North America, there were 32% more robots purchased in the first quarter of 2017 than at the same time the year before, according to the Robotic Industries Association.
  • In Europe between 1999 and 2010, the number of employees grew in tandem with automation, says Zew.
  • ABI Research predicts the collaborative robotics market will surge to $1 billion in total revenue by 2020, with over 40,000 cobots entering the industry.
  • As mentioned in IDC’s Worldwide Healthcare IT 2017 Predictions report, there will be a 50% increase in the use of robotics for medical and healthcare delivery services by 2019.
  • Robots perform only about 10 percent of manufacturing tasks today, but that number is expected to jump to around 25 percent by 2025. – Fortune, “The Multi-Billion Dollar Robotics Market Is About to Boom,”
  • With a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.8 percent, robotics sales are poised for substantial expansion, too. International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts spending is expected to reach almost $231 billion in 2021. – IDC, “Worldwide Semiannual Commercial Robotics Spending Guide,”
  • Approximately 10% to 20% of human work hours are spent on dull, repetitive computer tasks, according to Software Testing and Big Data Hadoop, marking quite a large chunk of time that is wasted on processes that can be easily automated.
  • Statista believes that the RPA industry will be worth $3.1 billion by 2019 and $4.9 billion by 2020. According to Forrester, this figure is more likely to be around $2.9 billion by 2021.
  • Amazon began using robotics in 2012 with its acquisition of Kiva systems; the Boston-based firm was later renamed Amazon Robotics. At the time, this marked Amazon’s second-largest acquisition, signifying the investment the company was placing in innovations around artificial intelligence (AI) and automation.
  • According to the IFR (International Federation of Robotics), there have been approximately 2.7 million industrial robots shipped worldwide since the 1960s. With a potential service life of 15 years, that means there are more than 1.6 million robots in service today.
  • The total number of professional service robots sold in 2017 rose considerably by 85% to 109,543 units up from 59,269 in 2016. The sales value increased by 39% to US$ 6.6bn.
  • With 11,992 units, service robots in defence applications accounted for 11% of the total number of service robots for professional use sold in 2017. Thereof, unmanned aerial vehicles seem to be the application with the highest share and their sales increased by 5% to 10,260 units. A number of 1,380 unmanned ground based vehicles, which include e.g. bomb fighting robots, were sold, 33% more than in 2016.
  • Sales of medical robots increased by 73% compared to 2016 to 2,931 units in 2017, accounting for a share of 2.7% of the total unit sales of professional service robots. The most important applications are robot assisted surgery or therapy with 1,502 units sold in 2017, 22% more than in 2016.
  • The size of the market for toy robots and hobby systems is forecasted at almost 2.5 million units in 2018 and 9.0 million units from 2019 to 2021, most of which are for obvious reasons low-priced.
  • It is projected that sales of all types of robots for domestic tasks (vacuum cleaning, lawnmowing, window cleaning and other types) could reach almost 7.5 million units (valued US$ 2bn in 2018) and 39.5 million units in the period 2019-2021, with an estimated value of US$ 11.1bn.
  • One quarter of Japan’s population is over 65, and by 2065, that number is expected to rise to 40%. This has led to the rapid growth of the nursing-care robot market, and the government is spending 1/3 of its budget on the development of care robots that will make life easier for Japan’s elderly.
  • There is a factory in Japan which can run unsupervised for 30 days at a time. Robots build other robots at the rate of 50 per 24-hour shift. Such factories are called “lights out” factories because no human presence is needed. FANUC has been operating this autonomous factory since 2001. – Source
  • Using robots actually helps create jobs. For instance, between 2010 and 2016, 136,748 robots were shipped to the U.S., and 894,000 new manufacturing jobs were created. (Source)
  • Companies mainly choose to use robots because of safety reasons. Cobots can perform the more risky or hazardous tasks that humans once had to, while humans operate the robots and avoid these hazards. (Source)
  • Because we’re using more robots, robotics engineer positions (which include job titles like automation engineer, robotics systems engineer, and autonomous vehicle design engineer) are growing between 5%-9% per year in the U.S. By 2026, there are anticipated to be 9,500 job openings for robotics engineer positions. (Source)