There is no doubt that the robotics market is experiencing a huge boom currently, as the cost of technology and hardware decreases while the ability to produce it develops, it creates an ideal market. The North American robotics market had an impressive first quarter of 2017, increasing its volume by 32% over the same period from the previous year and the international market posted a similar rate of growth. With this explosion in the revenue of the robotics market, one could reasonably assume that the same can be said for makers of robotics sensors – but that is not exactly the case. Which begs the question, why isn’t the robotic sensor market reaping the same benefits seen in the robotics market? The answer may not be what you expect.
Robotics are becoming a more welcome presence in the lives of people around the world, doing everything from manufacturing to roaming on their own in homes, the air, in the seas, and in space. Unlike humans and other organic lifeforms, who have an innate ability to sense the world around them, robots are manufactured and therefore need assistance with perceiving the world in order to accomplish their purpose. These robots require sensors to see, hear, touch, and track their movement in space. Robot sensors run the gamut of information they generate covering things like light, sound, temperature, contact, proximity, distance, and more. Such abilities are crucial to the performance of the robots, and they need these sensors to function properly.
The reason the robotics sensors market isn’t seeing that revenue increase is simple, the cost of sensors has taken a nosedive in recent years thanks to the advent of mobile computing (like smartphones) and smart-home appliances (Amazon Echo, Samsung smart appliances, etc.). These products require features like cameras and accelerometers which just a few years ago were the purview of university engineering labs, large companies, and governments, but with the massive increase in usage, prices plummeted. The increase in revenue for the robotics market and its growth on the whole is due for the most part to sensor prices becoming so much more affordable. Unfortunately for the manufacturers of these sensors, the price decrease for them means less revenue despite market growth. This adds up to strong sales with more modest revenue.
Luckily for manufacturers though, the future is bright. The stellar growth and evolution of the robotics market will only continue to accelerate as demand for more sophisticated robots increases. We can expect to see more robots operating alongside humans, due to the overall robotization of the world, through the use of self-driving and semi-autonomous vehicles, new types of drones, and the spread of collaborative robots (cobots) in light manufacturing and other applications. As the number of robots working in conjunction with humans grow, they will require higher safety regulations which will be aided by the robotics sensors. As the want for these higher-end robotics increases, there will be a hunger for more sophisticated sensors such as LiDAR, 3D cameras, units that measure force, and other kinds of sensors over the next decade. Robotics sensor manufacturers are now developing new types of sensors to fill these needs and will continue to see rising growth rates going forward.