- Jibo, Pepper, Buddy and other social robots begin to sell
2015 was a year of promotion and product development for social robots like Pepper, Jibo, Buddy, Rokid and Sota. 2016 will be a pivotal year to see how they are received by the public. It's the time when companies will sell enough units to get enough feedback to learn whether their bots provide a real and lasting service or are just a passing fancy.
- Collaborative robots begin working in factories and SMEs
Started in Europe as a public-private movement to figure out ways to keep labor from being offshored to lower labor cost countries, the movement was focused on small and medium-sized enterprises – factories and shops of less than 500 employees – and was called the SME movement. The concept was that if you empowered shop employees with robotic tools that improved their combined productivity, the SME would become more cost efficient and competitive and therefore not have to move offshore. The movement has taken off with two startups leading the charge: Universal Robots and Rethink Robotics. Collaborative robots represented 5% of the overall 2014 robot market but expectations for the future, based on acceptance of the products thus far, indicate a fast growth future, perhaps selling hundreds of thousands of them by 2020.
- IFR predicts 15% CAGR for rest of decade
- 180,000 robotic vacuum cleaners sold on a single day
- 50,000 robots polishing, sanding and handling at Foxconn
- 30,000+ robots and 100,000+ temporary workers are at work in Amazon warehouses
Over 100,000 temporary workers have been hired by Amazon to supplement its 90,000 employees at its 70 US warehouses and shipping hubs during this holiday season. In 2012 Amazon hired 50,000 temps; 70,000 in 2013; 80,000 in 2014. Temporary help firms say that Amazon's demand for temps is testing the limits of the supply, hence Amazon's focus on robotics, particularly the 30,000+ Kiva Systems robots at work today to save on transporting goods within warehouses, and the newer robots that do both the picking and transporting.
- Funding for robotic startups tops $1.2 billion
- Notable acquisitions include GomTec, Blue Belt, Universal Robots and Adept
- Self-driving cars in the news daily, globally
- Clamor for talent, particularly Silicon Valley software and AI talent
- DARPA Robotics Challenge