The retail sector is driving autonomous mobile robot adoption, with one research group predicting a rapid increase in the next five years.
By 2025 over 150,000 mobile robots will be put into retailers, according to global tech market advisory firm ABI Research.
Rian Whitton, senior robotics analyst at ABI, said: “Big retailers have demonstrated their ability to scale their robotic products much more easily than other markets.
“For example, [US supermarket chain] Kroger has developed a partnership with last-mile delivery company Nuro and Walmart is leading the industry in technology development, albeit under the radar. As they look to keep an aggressive pace in last-mile delivery, Walmart has also filed more drone patents than even Amazon.”
Among market drivers are robots that can handle floor cleaning; data-collecting systems for inventory and automated tugs for material handling.
“The value proposition for mobile robots in intralogistics is a familiar one,” said Whitton, “labour costs are too high, and production efficiency is too low. Deploying commercial robots eliminates concerns around driver cost and safety and can facilitate waste reduction.”