SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Robots are on the rise with “massive growth” in venture investments and steeper revenue growth projected beyond 2020. Experts foresee long-term markets rise and prices decline as China’s factories start making and consuming more automated systems.
Industrial robots will see “strong growth after 2020, due to their proliferation in Asia and the availability of more low-cost, high-quality systems,” said Dan Kara, research director for robotics at market watcher ABI Research, forecasting China will overtake the U.S. as the largest market in a few years.
Robotics used to be all about precision actuators made mainly in “Germany, Japan and Switzerland, but now China is catching up and systems increasingly will be made with smart software so you don’t need those pricey actuators,” Kara said in a talk at the RoboBusiness event he helped found here.
Overall, ABI Research projects sales of more than half a million industrial robots a year by 2020, up from about 360,000 last year. China will drive up the growth curve so sales break a million units a year in 2025, he said.
Seeing the potential, VC spending in robotics saw “a massive amount of growth” in 2015 that continues through this year, Kara said. The money split across about a dozen areas with the largest slice in software followed by sensors.
Lidar, widely used in the latest systems, had been a hot spot for investors. Indeed, two lidar makers — Quanergy and Velodyne — had the largest deals at $90 and $150 million, respectively.
Next page: Emerging robots play well with co-workers
VC investment in robotics tripled in 2015 with software taking the biggest slice of the pie Click to enlarge. (Charts: ABI Research)