The International Federation of Robotics expects 93,800 professional service robots to be sold from 2012 through 2015, with the majority of them being used for defense and agriculture applications. (Source: International Federation of Robotics)
This research more or less supports the same trends I'm seeing in my own writing about robots, but you're right, agriculture is a bit of a surprise. Defense, of course, is going to be a leader in this space. It will be fun and interesting to see how personal service robots come more into play over the next few years, as there seems to be a boom in that industry at the moment. Thanks for sharing this report, Ann!
Elizabeth and Ann, I wonder if these numbers include farm equipment, such as tractors, which drive themselves. The tractors do not only drive themselves, but the attached equipment dispenses seed, fertilizer and other items, automatically and differentially. I talked to one farmer and he says the only thing he has to do is engage the device (plow, seeder, etc.) and that only for liability reasons.
Lou, that's a really good question. I also wonder if that category includes robotic trucks and tractors. I suspect it does. Milking machines was the only example given in the report's executive summary.
Interesting point, naperlou. That could definitely explain the high numbers in agriculture. But do tractors really do work without humans guiding them? I don't know alot about farming, but I don't imagine they plow the fields without someone in the driver's chair...or do they? Isn't that a bit dangerous? But like I said, this is not my area of expertise, so I would love to know. And excuse my ignorance, any farmers out there.
Elizaabeth, the tractors really do drive themselves. They could run without a driver. The people I know sit in the tractor and the main reasin is liability. If something went wrong, they are there to take over. It is a lot like the Space Shuttle.
The tractors use GPS for guidance. There are some that might use lasers. During harvest, the combines provide real time yield information. This is fed into a program that determines what to do at each point in the field. This could involve seed or fertilizer, for example. After last year's drought, the farmer may use drought resistant seed varieties in those areas that did not do well. This, of course, saves money since the drought resistant varieties are more expensive. It is the same with fertilizer. It not only saves money, it is better for the land.
That's really incredible, naperlou. I did not know how sophisticated tractor technology had become with GPS, the ability to gather and access real-time info and even lasers! I wonder how far off a completely robotic and automated farm is, without the need for anyone in the fields or on the land to do the job that humans traditionally have done?
It's amazing to hear that there are 1.7 million household robots out there. Even though I've written about them in the past, I have to admit I never see any of them in the homes of relatives or friends.
Two of my friends have Roombas. Both have named theirs (one is Wilbur) and the things just wander around the house at what appears to be when the robot decides to. When it gets tired, it just goes back and plugs itself into its charger.
Both friends are Asians and Asians don't wear shoes in the house so Wilbur doesn't have to do much work anyway. Wilbur has about the same stress level as my dog who doesn't even have to vacuum the floor.
Wish I could see those graphs fully. I canít make out the words on my screen. No way to open them up separately either.
I canít afford a Roomba, but my tax dollars buy military and farming bots for other people. Such is the way of life.
Charles, I am with you. I don't know anyone who has a robot, either. However, as I have lived in Portugal for three years, where people quite often don't even have computers, that is not surprising! But even my friends in the states remain relatively robot-free. I think personally, though, a Roomba would be great! Maybe I can order one online. :)
Chuck, these are worldwide figures. Graphs showing geographic distribution weren't included in the executive summary, but I'd bet the vast majority of those domestic 'bots are being sold in Asia, and to a lesser extent in Europe.
Ann, Thanks for the report. It's interesting that defense applications are one of the biggest areas of growth for service robots but I guess that drone technology is really expanding at this point in time. Also interesting that use of agricultural robots is growing. Thanks for the report.
Al, the growth in the number of military robots over the last few years has been huge, as has the variety. It's by no means limited to drones: there are UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), UGVs (same for ground) and USVs (same for submersible). The last category actually has multiple names and acronyms, such as AUV (automated underwater vehicle)--typical military. There's also a huge variety within the first two categories, less so with the submersibles. I suspect that's because so much of the design effort there goes to keeping the electronics and mechanics dry.
Ann, Thanks for the links to the slide shows. I continue to be amaze at the volume of new robotic solutions that are being developed. And also the way that they are integrating technology beyond the robotic platform itself. Thanks again.