COVID-19 will result in a surge in mobile robot use cases

02 April 2020

A whitepaper from ABI Research has identified the short- and long-term impact that the global pandemic is likely to have on industrial, collaborative, and commercial robotics.

The Coronavirus outbreak has highlighted many use cases for mobile robotics to successfully disinfect, monitor, surveille, handle and deliver materials. These proven use cases are expected to propel the overall mobile robotics market to US$23 billion by 2021, according to ABI Research.

According to Rian Whitton, senior analyst at ABI Research the crisis will shift perceptions on what is possible regarding investment and transformative action on the part of both private and government actors. :By the time the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, robots will be mainstreamed across a range of applications and markets,” he said.

The virus has provided an opportunity for companies to display robots for public applications. One of the more popular has been deploying mobile unmanned platforms with Ultraviolet (UV) light to disinfect facilities. Danish company UVD Robots, for example, is reaping the benefits of this opportunity and is scaling up deployments of robots to disinfect hospitals.

US-based Germ Falcon is offering a similar UV disinfection solution for aircraft, while Chinese TMiRob is deploying disinfection robots in Wuhan. “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,” said Whitton.

In the long-term, COVID-19 is leading to a significant reassessment of the global manufacturing supply chain. For example, 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 revitalise the campaign and reshore more manufacturing capacity to the domestic market. If this translates into more significant measures by governments to diversify or reshore the manufacturing of key goods, this could bode well for the robotics industry, as such changes would require big increases in CAPEX and productivity improvements within developed countries.

On the flip side the whitepaper says that COVID-19 represents a disaster for robotics vendors building solutions for developed markets in manufacturing, industry, and the supply chain. But for vendors targeting markets closer to government, such as health, security, and defense, it represents a big opportunity. Whitton recommends that industrial players develop customised solutions for non-manufacturing use cases or look to build comprehensive solutions for enabling a scale-up in medical supply manufacturing. For mobile robotics vendors and software companies targeting more nascent markets, it represents a chance to highlight the importance of robotics for dealing with national emergencies, as well as mitigating economic shock.”

CLICK HERE to download the whitepaper Taking Stock of COVID-19: The Short- and Long-Term Ramifications on Technology and End Markets.

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