Domestic service robots on the rise, says analyst firm

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The domestic service robot market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17 percent, from 5 million units shipped in 2015 to more than 12 million units in 2020, according to market research firm IHS.

Dyson?s 360 Eye robotic vacuum
Dyson?s 360 Eye robotic vacuum

Domestic service robots are devices that autonomously carry out indoor and outdoor household chores, and they include vacuum cleaners, floor cleaners, window cleaners, lawn mowers, pool cleaners, as well as robots used for social and edutainment purposes and robotic kitchen/chefs.

The following three critical factors will affect adoption of domestic service robots:

? Better performance of the core task compared to earlier traditional products;

? Leading-edge navigation technology for obstacle detection, collision avoidance and low-power connectivity; and,

? Other marketplace dynamics, including product pricing, retail environment, supplier promotional strategies, overall consumer interest in robotic technology and safety and security standards set out by the industry regulators.

?Robotic vacuum and floor cleaners are not only cleaning and mopping devices, but they have also become fashionable status symbols,? said Dinesh Kithany, principal analyst for IHS Markit.

?Younger consumers and working couples with busy lifestyles are major targets for robotic vacuums and other such products. Plus, with added connectivity features, users will soon be able to remotely control their smart connected robotic devices and monitor their home through cameras built inside high-end smart connected robotic floor cleaners.?

Navigation and obstacle avoidance technology in domestic service robots has evolved over the past decade. The latest development in mapping and navigation technology using a 360-degree laser or an image sensor (e.g. Neato Robotics? Botvac connected robotic vacuum, Dyson?s 360 Eye robotic vacuum, and iRobot?s Roomba 980 robotic vacuum) enables the robots to move around the house smoothly into tighter and dense spaces.

In earlier generations of these products, the rudimentary mapping technology meant the robots bumped along walls and featured a few preset cleaning patterns that determined the cleaning time of each room.

With improved technology in newer devices on the market, the camera sensor or a laser scans the room and the furniture in it, so the device knows the exact location to resume its job even after its battery is recharged.

Connecting robotic devices to mobile devices is an additional feature that is expected to spur growth in the domestic service robot market. Connectivity allows users to remotely track the status of their appliances using cameras –in some cases, they can also be used as home-security cameras.

Wireless local area network (WLAN) or Wi-Fi will remain the most popular connectivity technology over the next five years. Low-power single-chip Wi-Fi is expected to become the main connectivity technology for the connected domestic service robot market in the future.

domestic_service_robots_chart_ihsm

Current high prices are considered to be one of the key barriers to growth in the domestic service robot market, even though the supplier market is very fragmented.

Leading suppliers are also constantly looking to reduce the cost of their products and differentiate them by adding more features and adopting innovative designs.

?Many appliance manufacturers are collaborating with research institutes to showcase their ideas and product concepts in almost every robotics- and technology-oriented industry event,? Kithany said.

?iRobot, Dyson, Samsung, LG, Bosch, Moley Robotics, Robomow, Maytronics and Moneual are the few major players in their respective product categories.?

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