World's Robot Population and More Stats


The world's robot population has reached 4.49 million, and that number should nearly double by 2010 to 8.37 million. That's one automaton for every person in Austria, whatever that means! But we've written about that already: we put together these numbers based on data from the latest edition of World Robotics, a survey by the International Federation of Robotics released late last year.

Now we're looking again at this number-filled report and highlighting some of its best stuff. We want to know: What kinds of robots are out there? Where are they toiling around? And how fast are the silicon-brained things multiplying?

First, a recap: The World Robotics study divides robots in two main categories: industrial robots and service robots. The first category includes welding systems, assembly manipulators, silicon-wafer handlersâ''you know, that kind of heavy, expensive, several-degrees-of-freedom stuff. The second category is divided in two subcategories: professional service robots (things like bomb-disposal bots, surgical systems, milking robots) and personal service robots (vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, all sorts of robot hobby kits and toys).

Below you'll find 10 statistics about the world's robotics market we thought you'd want to know. (All data from the World Robotics study except the world robot population figures -- see note [1] at the end.)


That's the total number of industrial robots in operation worldwide in 2006. The population of these hard-working factory bots is expected to grow about 4 percent per year between 2008 and 2010. By the end of 2010 the total should reach 1.17 million.

3.54 million

Number of service robots sold up to 2006. It includes 39,900 professional units (remember, those rugged, expensive bots for disposing of bombs or milking cows) and about 3.5 million personal units (consumer-oriented robots like those roaming around living rooms and backyards). By 2010, the population of service robots is expected to reach 7.2 million.

8.3 million

Projected world robot population by 2010. This projection (the sum of the projected totals of industrial and service robots) represents a growth of 85 percent over the current 4.49 million robot population.


Number of industrial robots sold in 2006 worldwide, a decrease of 11 percent over the previous year, when 127,000 units were sold, an all-time record. But still, 2006 was a good year, with the second highest yearly sales ever recorded.

11 percent

Growth in sales of industrial robots in Europe, the only region of the world with more robots sold in 2006 than in 2005. After big investments in previous years, sales in Asia/Australia declined 19 percent, and in the Americas 18 percent. (See note [2] at the end.)

US $7.2 billion

Sales of service robots up to 2006. The total includes professional units (80 percent of the total, or $5.8 billion) and personal units (20 percent, $1.4 billion).


That's the number of military/rescue/security robots shipped as of 2006 -- units like iRobot's PackBot, Foster Miller's Talon, and various kinds of unmanned aerial vehicles. Such military/rescue/security robots account for the biggest share (22 percent) of the professional service robots market, followed by field robots (mainly milking robots; 16 percent), cleaning robots and underwater systems (14 percent each), construction robots (10 percent), medical robots (9 percent), and general-use mobile platforms (8.4 percent).

2.35 million

Number of vacuuming bots (Roomba and its competitors) shipped worldwide as of 2006. Robotic lawn mowers? More than 91,000 units (like Friendly Robotics Robomow) sold up to 2006.

3.5 million

Number of domestic service robots expected to be sold from 2007 to 2010. The projection includes 1.3 million application-specific units (vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, and so forth) and 2.2 million entertaining and leisure robots (toy robots, hobby robotic kits, and educational robots).

50 percent

Half of the world's 951,000 industrial robots are in Asia. The rest? A third (316,000 units) reside in Europe, and 16 percent (155,000 units) in North America. China saw its 2006 robot sales increase to 5,800 units, a 29 percent growth over the previous year. The country is now the third largest robot market in Asia after Japan (the worldâ''s largest robot market, with 2006 sales of 37,400 units) and South Korea.


[1] The World Robotics study doesn't add the total number of robots in the two main categories to obtain a grand total, probably because the resulting number would be a big mixed bag of things, from $9.99 robot toys to multimillion dollar auto-assembly manipulators, and also because the study counts industrial robots and service robots differently. The 951,000 estimate is for the â''worldwide operational stock of industrial robots,â'' and thatâ''s the robots actually operational these days. On the other hand, the 40,000 and 3,500,000 estimates are for service robots sold up to 2006, which means it includes robots no longer in operation like that 2002 first-generation Roomba you destroyed trying to build a personal servant. Automaton added the two numbers because ... well, because it's cool to have a number for the world's robot population. We warn this is a somewhat unscientifically concocted figure -- use it at your own risk.

[2] Growth was particularly strong in Germany and Italy (see this slide World-Robotics-2007-Sales-Europe.png). In terms of industries, sales in Europe increased for the chemical/rubber/plastics, metal, and food industries, among others (see this slide World-Robotics-2007-Industries-Europe.png). The decline in sales for the Asia/Australia region as a whole was especially strong in Japan and South Korea, but in China sales actually increased (see this slide World-Robotics-2007-Sales-Asia.png). The overall sales decline in Asia/Australia was caused by reduced investments in the automotive and electronics industries (see this slide World-Robotics-2007-Applications-Asia.png). Despite the decline in sales for the Americas as a whole, Brazil and Mexico registered an increase in sales (see this slide World-Robotics-2007-Sales-Americas.png). What's more, the sales of robots for some applications actually increased in the Americas, thanks to higher investments in the electronics industry (see this slide World-Robotics-2007-Industries-Americas.png).



IEEE Spectrum’s award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, drones, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
Contact us:

Erico Guizzo
New York City
Senior Writer
Evan Ackerman
Washington, D.C.

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