The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) just released its 2003 World Robotics survey. The original press release by UNECE has 15 pages in PDF format, while the full report represents 380 pages.
Here are the three essential findings.
- Robot orders in first half of 2003 were up by 26% to the highest level ever recorded. Growth rates reached 35% in North America, 25% in Europe and 18% in Asia.
- Worldwide growth in the period 2003-2006 will reach an average annual rate of 7.4%. These annual rates will fall in a broad range: 4.5% in Japan, 5.3% in Europe, 9.9% in North America.
- And household robots are starting to take off.
According to the report, there are now at least 770,000 robots at work, including 350,000 in Japan, 233,000 in the European Union and about 104,000 in North America.
Robots also are coming to our homes.
At the end of 2002 more than 50,000 autonomous vacuum cleaners and lawn-mowing robots were in operation. By the end of 2006, a tenfold increase is predicted.
The report also gives some numbers of "robot densities, expressed as the number of robots per 10,000 persons employed in the manufacturing industry." It can go over 1 robot per 10 workers in the motor vehicle industry.
Japan is in the lead with 1,700 robots per 10,000 workers but, bearing in mind that Japan includes all types of robots (up to and including 2000), it is not comparable with the densities of other countries.
Besides robots used by the industry and for professional services, like cleaning or medical robots, the report forecasts an explosion in the number of service robots for personal use. Here is a chart showing this growth for the period 2003-2006 (Credit: UNECE).
It is projected that sales of all types of domestic robots (vacuum cleaning, lawn-mowing, window cleaning and other types) in the period 2003-2006 can reach some 638,000 units. Although this number excludes the too optimistic forecasts of several millions of units made by some companies, it might in the light of sales recorded already in 2003 be far too low.
For more information, the full report, "World Robotics 2003 -- Statistics, Market Analysis, Forecasts, Case Studies and Profitability of Robot Investment" can be purchased for $130.
Source: UNECE, October 17, 2003
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