The ability of mobile robotics to successfully disinfect, monitor, surveil, and handle and deliver materials will propel the market to $23 billion by 2021, according to ABI Research. “Crises shift perceptions on what is possible regarding investment and transformative action on the part of both private and government actors,” said Rian Whitton, a senior analyst, in a statement. “By the time the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, robots will be mainstreamed across a range of applications and markets.”
The coronavirus outbreak has been a good opportunity for companies to display robots for public applications, ABI Research said. One of the more popular examples has been the deployment of mobile unmanned platforms with ultraviolet (UV) light to disinfect facilities, the firm said. Danish company UVD Robots is reaping the benefits of this opportunity and is scaling up deployments of robots to disinfect hospitals, ABI Research said.
Additionally, US-based Germ Falcon is offering a similar UV disinfection solution for aircraft, while Chinese TMiRob is deploying disinfection robots in Wuhan, according to the firm. “Automating disinfection is a key part of maintaining health and safety and could be one of the major bright spots in the response to COVID-19,” Whitton said.
Drones have also been deployed to enforce curfews and surveil areas for security purposes, according to ABI Research. This represents a big opportunity for aerospace and drone companies to increase sales to government agencies, the firm said. ABI Research expects the small drone delivery market in the US to reach $414 million by 2021, and $10.4 billion by 2030.
In the short term, to enforce quarantine mandates, governments will need to increase their security apparatuses, as well as the productivity of their medical agencies, according to ABI Research. Robots will be key to achieving that through disinfection, monitoring, and surveillance, the firm said.
Furthermore, the shutting down of households and even ships represents a chance for robot delivery companies for both land and air to display their worth, the firm noted. The drone delivery market could take its experience with transporting supplies in the developing world and scale up operations in the most affected countries.
In the long-term, COVID-19 is leading to a significant reassessment of the global manufacturing supply chain, the firm believes. America’s dependence on Chinese imports for basic equipment and medicines is becoming a contentious issue, and government representatives are already interpreting the crisis as a chance to revitalize the campaign to re-shore more manufacturing capacity to the domestic market, ABI Research said.
“If this translates into more significant measures by governments to diversify or re-shore the manufacturing of key goods, this could bode very well for the robotics industry, as such changes would require big increases in CAPEX and productivity improvements within developed countries,” the firm stated.
COVID-19 represents a disaster for robotics vendors building solutions for developed markets in manufacturing, industry, and the supply chain, ABI Research said. But for vendors targeting markets closer to government, such as health, security, and defense, it represents a big opportunity, the firm said.
“Industrial players [should] develop customized solutions for non-manufacturing use cases or look to build comprehensive solutions for enabling a scale-up in medical supply manufacturing,” Whitton recommended. “For mobile robotics vendors and software companies targeting more nascent markets, this represents a big chance to highlight the importance of robotics for dealing with national emergencies, as well as mitigating the economic shock.”