Service Robotics in Europe Taking Off | Automation.com

Service Robotics in Europe Taking Off

Service Robotics in Europe Taking Off

March 1, 2013 - “Service Robotics in Europe has evolved from prototypes to commercially viable products.  Thus, more and more professional service robots enter the market.” stated Thilo Brodtmann, director of the European robotics association EUnited Robotics, at the SCHUNK Expert Days 2013.  Due to this positive market development, the association is heavily involved with its newly established working group intended entirely to serve the interests of European manufacturers of service robots.  Henrik A. Schunk, chairman of EUnited Robotics is pleased with the participation of many renowned manufacturers from all over Europe.  “This great interest shows that service robotics has long outgrown its infancy stage.  Although the media often feature a slightly futuristic picture of service robotics, it is important to recognise that service robots have been around for a long time and their acceptance among the public is continuously on the rise.”  

Enormous growth potential for logistics systems, medical robots, and applications in the agricultural sector. According to the latest report from, the International Federation of Robotics (IFR 1), 16,400 service robots for professional use have been sold.  Based on this latest report, the sector’s sales have increased to about 2.8 billion euros due to an average annual growth rate of 10 percent.  A total of 5,000 robots for agriculture, mainly milking robots and other robots for livestock farming have been sold. Logistical systems have also developed into a commercial success.  There are at least 2,500 automatically guided vehicles installed in factories.  Sales of medical robots have risen to 1,051 units.  The most important applications are robots assisting with operations and medical treatments.  The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) estimates that from 2012 to 2015 at least 93,800 new professional service robots will be sold worldwide with a value of about 12.5 billion euros.  Military robots have the largest market share; however, robots for livestock farming and agriculture are increasingly gaining ground.  IFR sees great growth potential in the logistics systems not only in industrial production, but also in many other areas such as warehousing, hospitals, supermarkets and much more.  Surveillance and security robots also have an equally high growth potential in all areas.  

New ideas from the research landscape in Europe Thanks to the European Commission’s support, an exciting and internationally recognized research community is established within Europe resulting in new technological developments and various spin-offs.  New spin-off companies have already entered many niche markets with their novel products and applications. “In all likelihood, further transformation of existing technologies into robust and affordable end products will lead to further industry growth,” said Thilo Brodtmann.  “The European Commission has recognized the opportunities and challenges faced by robotics.  Thus, a Public-Private Partnership for robotics is currently in preparation which will further stimulate research in Europe.” explained Henrik A. Schunk, praising European research activities.  

AUTOMATICA 2014:  logical step towards further development of a professional marketplace for service robotics in Europe At the final press conference of AUTOMATICA 2012, the Munich Trade Fair Center (Messe München) had already determined for AUTOMATICA to become the world’s largest trade fair for industrial robots and the leading trade fair for service robots.  This is a logical development since more and more manufacturers of industrial robots are also expanding into the service robotics area.  Users of industrial robots are increasingly interested in professional service robots that clean factories, assist workers with heavy workloads, or help optimize the material flow.  Therefore, it is also advantageous that the 2014 MAINTAIN – the leading trade fair for industrial maintenance – takes place parallel to AUTOMATICA where similar applications play an important role.  

In addition to the topics mentioned, the newly established Working Group on Service Robotics at EUnited Robotics will also handle matters related to standardization, press and public relations, as well as networking within the community.  “The wish list of our members is long and the technology’s potential is tremendous, what more could I ask for as the chairman of the association?”, said Henrik A. Schunk as he summed up the commitment of EUnited Robotics to the service robotics sector.       

EUnited Robotics , European Robotics Association, was founded in 2004 by major European robot manufacturers.  EUnited Robotics serves as a platform for manufacturers, component suppliers, and system integrators of robotics in Europe, creating a network of industry leaders.  EUnited Robotics is the robotics industries’ voice in Europe representing the robot suppliers’ view on industry issues and R&D policies.  The association is also a cooperation platform among all robotics stakeholders – from research institutes to national associations and customers.   

Members: ABB (Sweden), COMAU (Italy), Güdel (Switzerland), ISRA Vision (Germany), KUKA Roboter (Germany), Reis Robotics (Germany), Schunk (Germany), Spinea (Slovakia) and SUMITOMO (Germany)  Cooperation partners: DLR German Aerospace Centre (Germany), Fraunhofer IPA  (Germany), and Technische Universität München (Germany). 

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