Consumer robots are coming. Millions of them.
A new forecast says 16 million consumer robots will be shipped globally this year, growing to 48 million in three years.
North America and Western Europe will drive significant shipment number while China and the Far East will dominate the market by 2020, according to the report by Juniper Research.
The study defines a consumer robot as an autonomous, mobile electromechanical machine, capable of being programmed and re-programmed, that is used in the home or has non-commercial applications and should be able to perceive its environment to some extent and react to it.
A consumer robot is likely to be controlled either through a mobile app or via link to a PC, according to Juniper.
Robots being use by consumers is not new. For example, Pepper the robot from Softbank Robotics, recently introduced in the U.S., already is in homes in Japan. The annual CES in Las Vegas showcased countless new robot introductions.
Juniper defined six specific categories of consumer robotics. Based on the amount of venture capital investments, autonomous vehicles lead the way, followed by social. Here’s the breakdown of the consumer robotics VC funding just for the last year:
There are some constraints for consumer robotics moving forward. These include the non-existence of capable artificial intelligence systems to improve via unsupervised machine learning techniques, a nebulous value proposition, regulatory issues and the amount of investment needed for robot development, according to Juniper.
Those are some significant potential barriers to consumer robots but the money is still heading that way.