World Robotics 2021 – annual report on service robots

The worldwide market for professional service robots has reached $6.7 billion, representing a 12% growth rate by 2020. Sales of consumer service robots have also increased by 16%, bringing the turnover in this area to $4.4 billion, according to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) annual report.

The top five application trends for professional service robots were influenced by the extra demand caused by the global pandemic:

  1. sales of autonomous mobile robots (AMR) and delivery robots grew by 11% to more than $1 billion. The majority of devices sold are used in indoor environments, production and warehouses. The trend is towards flexible solutions, so that AMRs can work in mixed environments, e.g. with forklifts, other mobile robots or humans. There is also a strong market potential for delivery robots in outdoor environments with public transport, e.g. in the final stages of home delivery. However, regulations in most countries do not yet allow for the widespread use of such robots.
  2. Demand for professional cleaning robots has increased by 92%. In response to increased hygiene requirements due to pandemic Covid-19, more than 50 operators have developed disinfecting robots that spray disinfectant liquid or operate using ultraviolet light. Often existing mobile robots have been converted into disinfection robots. Hospitals and other public places represent a major potential for disinfection robots. Sales of professional floor cleaning robots are expected to grow at an average annual double-digit rate between 2021 and 2024.
  3. Medical robotics accounted for 55% of total professional service robot sales in 2020, mainly for robotic surgical devices. Sales grew by 11% to reach $3.6 billion. The huge increase in the number of robots used for rehabilitation and non-invasive therapy makes this application the largest medical application in terms of unit sales. About 75% of medical robot suppliers are companies based in North America and Europe.
  4. The global pandemic has created additional demand for social robots that help, for example, nursing home residents to stay in touch with friends and family during times of social isolation.
  5. Catering robots are also growing in popularity, generating $249 million in sales and are forecast to continue to grow. Demand for robots for food and beverage preparation has grown tremendously – with sales almost tripling to $32 million. The Covid-19 pandemic has raised awareness of the need to avoid contact with food.

The full article in English and German is available here.

Gábor Dénes Prize Winners’ Club Event

The Gábor Dénes Prize Winners’ Club (GDDK) held its event on 23 November 2018 at the Antal Bejczy iRobotics Centre of the University of Óbuda (ÓU) University Research and Innovation Centre (EKIK). The event was organised around interdisciplinary areas in engineering and healthcare, from medical robotics to artificial pancreas.

The evening was opened by Dr. Ferenc Darvas, President of the GDDK, followed by a welcome address by Dr. József Gáti, Vice-Rector of Óbuda University. Prof. Dr. Imre Rudas, founding rector of Óbuda University, gave a short speech on the foundation and mission of the EERC, including the development of an institution with a college tradition into a Humboldtian citadel of higher education and research.

Following the welcoming speeches, Prof. Dr. Levente Kovács, Head of the PhysCon Research Centre at EKIK, who highlighted the results of their ERC Stg grant in the field of cyber-medical systems, began with the benefits and current issues of digital health. The audience also heard about the centre’s cancer therapy effort, “Tamed Cancer”, under an ERC grant: a project that proposes personalised therapies that can limit tumour growth, allowing patients to live with the tumour in a controlled way. The presentation concluded with a discussion on the control aspects of the artificial pancreas.

The next lecture was given by Dr Miklós Kozlovszky, Head of the EKIK Bio-tech Research Centre. The centre is currently engaged in research around telemedicine and physiological data, including the use of motion patterns in telerehabilitation. The presentation highlighted the importance of continuous ECG monitoring in the prevention of sudden heart failure. The Centre’s achievements in medical imaging and image processing were also presented.

The last of the speakers was Dr. Tamás Haidegger, Director of EKIK, who presented the latest achievements of the Antal Bejczy iRobotics Centre in the field of industrial and medical cyber-physical systems. Special attention was given to the da Vinci surgical robot, unique in Hungary, which is one of the most important elements of the centre’s infrastructure, alongside the da Vinci Research Kit. The audience heard about research on the partial automation of surgery, which aims to reduce the cognitive load on the surgeon by autonomously performing certain subtasks. The presentation also covered surgical ontologies, machine-readable descriptions of surgical data. The Centre’s work on surgical education was also presented, including the production of surgical training phantoms and data collection systems for assessing surgeon skill levels. The presentation concluded with some reflections on standardisation and safety issues in medical and industrial robotics.

After the presentations, guests had the opportunity to visit and test the infrastructure of the robotics centre and see demonstrations of current research projects. They could use the da Vinci teleoperation robot in a simple exercise and see the KUKA LBR iiwa collaborative robot that autonomously performs ultrasound measurements on a breast phantom, aimed at increasing the success rate of breast-conserving surgeries. As an element of virtual reality-based education in industrial robotics, the centre’s Fanuc robot could be navigated through a maze controlled by a smartphone. Visitors were also able to see small, cooperating robotic arms picking out objects using an advanced 3D vision system. The event was followed by a lively exchange of views on the technical issues and the socio-economic aspects of robotics. The University’s Centre for Research, Innovation and Services welcomes students interested in research topics and is open to R&D collaborations with other leading institutes and industrial partners.

Translated with (free version)