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Due to rising labor costs, a scarcity of available workers, and the flourishing e-commerce sector with a surge in demand for delivery services, the automation and integration of mobility into various applications like material handling, intralogistics, and last-mile delivery have become increasingly crucial. Between 2015 and 2022, IDTechEx has observed a remarkable 261-fold increase in the cumulative investments in mobile robotics from 2015 to 2022, driving rapid advancements in technology and widespread market adoption. Mobile robots have found extensive use, and with the easing of regulations and the advancement of core technologies such as LiDAR, cameras, and SLAM-based navigation, the mobile robotics market is projected to experience significant growth over the next two decades, with different products dominating various market segments.
IDTechEx’s comprehensive report on Mobile Robotics in Logistics, Warehousing, and Delivery spanning from 2024 to 2044 offers a detailed market forecast for mobile robots, segmented by robot category and primary application. The report presents a prediction of annual unit sales for these robots, providing valuable insights into the future trends and growth prospects of the mobile robots adoption in intralogistics, mobile picking in warehouses, and last-mile delivery.
Mobile Robotics Overview and Introduction to Main Applications
Mobile robots possess a remarkable advantage in their adaptability to various environments, distinguishing them from stationary robots confined to specific locations. Their flexibility is a crucial feature, enabling them to handle diverse loads efficiently, making them particularly valuable in the logistics industry.
As of 2023, indoor automated guided vehicles (AGVs) have experienced widespread adoption, mainly due to the benefits offered by well-controlled indoor infrastructures, such as tapes and QR codes, as well as the prevalence of indoor inventories. However, the landscape is transitioning rapidly with the increasing use of advanced navigation sensors like LiDAR and cameras, along with simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) algorithms. These developments are paving the way for the growing market uptake of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs).
The yearly market size for mobile robots in intralogistics, last-mile delivery, and mobile picking is projected to reach approximately US$150 billion by 2044. This represents opportunities not only for warehouse owners but also for key component and software suppliers in the industry.
The logistics industry has three subcategories: intralogistics, mobile picking, and last-mile delivery. Last-mile delivery robots are expected to have the fastest growth due to a relatively small market in 2023 and advancing technology. Intralogistics mobile robots will maintain their dominant position in market size. Over time, there is a shift from AGVs to AMRs due to navigation technology advancements and increased demand for flexibility.
AGVs and AMRs – Comparison and Trends
AGVs and AMRs can perform similar tasks, but their fundamental difference lies in navigation. AGVs rely heavily on infrastructure for navigation, which provides high positioning accuracy but comes with higher upfront costs and limited long-term operational flexibility. On the other hand, AMRs operate without infrastructure and utilize SLAM-based navigation enabled by sensors like LiDAR and cameras.
In the Mobile Robotics in Logistics, Warehousing, and Delivery 2024-2044 report, IDTechEx examined teardowns of products from leading mobile robot manufacturers. The analysis focused on critical components that enable autonomous navigation in these robots.
As of 2023, AGVs hold a dominant position in both yearly revenue and unit sales in the mobile robot market. Due to their reliance on necessary infrastructure, AGVs are primarily utilized in indoor environments like warehouses and factories. In the intralogistics industry, AGVs currently have around 72% market share, but this is anticipated to decrease to approximately 13% by 2044. The reason behind this shift is the increasing technology readiness of autonomous navigation, with IDTechEx projecting rapid growth in this area around the late 2020s.
The market share of various AGVs and AMRs in intralogistics – 2023 versus 2044
Last-Mile Delivery and Mobile Picking
In addition to intralogistics, last-mile delivery robots are anticipated to experience rapid growth, mainly due to loosening regulations. Last-mile delivery robots are categorized into delivery vans, sidewalk robots, and aerial drones. Aerial drones offer notable operational advantages, including fast delivery and the ability to navigate challenging terrain. However, they typically have limited payloads, and their operations are subject to varying regulations across different countries. While certain regions have seen a relaxation of regulations and a market boost, for instance, Flytrex has announced a 7-fold increase in its users from 2021 to 2022 thanks to the regulatory approval in certain areas in the USA.
When it comes to ground-based vehicles, delivery vans are projected to achieve faster market adoption compared to sidewalk robots. This is primarily due to their larger payload capacity and simpler operation in contrast to sidewalk robots. Delivery vans are designed for road operation, which is subject to more established regulations compared to the pavements where sidewalk robots typically navigate. Delivery vans offer significantly higher capacity, up to 10 times more than sidewalk robots, which enhances their overall efficiency. However, despite the lower unit cost of sidewalk robots, IDTechEx predicts that they will be ideal for short-haul and fast delivery operations, as they offer greater flexibility compared to delivery vans. The versatility of sidewalk robots makes them well-suited for specific use cases where fast and nimble deliveries are essential.
IDTechEx foresees a significant surge in demand for mobile robotics across diverse applications. In the near future, AGVs are projected to dominate the market, while AMRs are expected to experience rapid growth in the long-term. The report conducts performance and market analyses of various mobile robot types, providing insights into teardown components, regulations, news, key players, adoption rates, and 20-year market forecasts.
Technology Analyst, Robotics, IDTechEx
Dr. James Jeffs
Senior Technology Analyst, IDTechEx