The outbreak of the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has led to social distancing but also the need to disinfect and sanitize surfaces in the home and workplace. As a result, the market for mobile robotics that can help fight the spread of the virus is expected to grow to $23 billion by 2021, according to new analysis from ABI Research.
Mobile robots can be used to disinfect surfaces as well as monitor, survey, handle and deliver materials. The virus has given an opportunity for companies to showcase robots that can help do things such as deploy mobile unmanned platforms with ultraviolet (UV) light to disinfect facilities. UVD Robots has scaled up deployments of robots to disinfect hospitals and Germ Falcon is offering a similar UV disinfection solution for aircraft.
“Crises shift perceptions on what is possible regarding investment and transformative action on the part of both private and government actors,” said Rian Whitton, senior analyst at ABI Research. “By the time the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, robots will be mainstreamed across a range of applications and markets.”
Drones have been deployed to enforce curfews and conduct surveillance for security purposes, presenting an opportunity for aerospace and drone companies to increase sales to government agencies. ABI expects drone delivery to reach $414 million by 2021 and up to a whopping $10.4 billion by 2030.
ABI Research believes the long-term impact of COVID-19 will lead to a reassessment of the global manufacturing supply chain where the U.S.’s dependence of Chinese imports for basic equipment and medicines is becoming a contentious issue and could lead to a campaign to revitalize the domestic market. This could translate to the increased use of robotics in industrial and manufacturing, requiring increases in capital expenditures.
In the short term, robotics vendors in manufacturing, industry and the supply chain will see an impact on businesses, but vendors targeting robotic markets for government applications such as health, security and defense will see a big opportunity.
“For mobile robotics vendors and software companies targeting more nascent markets, this represents a big chance to highlight the importance of robotics for dealing with national emergencies, as well as mitigating the economic shock,” Whitton said.