Are you a robot?

No, this isn’t a rant on robots replacing human workers. Been there, done that. Today, I’m just sharing about how, while requesting some market stats on robotics I was CAPTCHA’d —  duped by the Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart — in the most peculiar way.

I was seeking a little data on the current market share for collaborative robots (cobots) in relation to the overall market for industrial robots. It’s well understood that they’re growing faster than the overall industrial robot market, but in what proportion? I reached out to a research firm’s website, completed the field for asking my specific question, and before I could submit my request, I was asked:


I wondered: Do robots get a discount? Is Skynet coming? Is the web species-ist? What’s it all mean?

Being an imperfect biological life form, I dutifully clicked on all the little photo squares in the CAPTCHA (or technically “reCAPTCHA”) that had streetlights and got my day’s shot of dopamine for passing the “not a robot” test on the first try. (Everybody gets a ribbon!)

I submitted my request, and it only took the blink of a software bot’s eye to read the email telling me: “We will contact you soon.” Meaning a human would call. Because human interaction’s a rusty skill, I’ll offer my best guesstimate. Which is: cobots are probably just-just approaching a double-digit share of the overall industrial robot market if they’re to hit a 15.7 percent share by 2028, which is what the latest Interact Analysis report from December 2020 indicates.

For now, the point’s made: We find humor where we can get it when working from our home offices. Still, in case you’re interested the rise of our collaborative friends, they’ll soon be selling…

Cobots by the billions

Market projections vary wildly as do methodologies (are grippers/tools and services included, etc.), but the report’s current market data jibed with others and its projections were most forward-looking. The firm says cobot sales would climb from just shy of $270 million in 2019, up 15.6% over 2018, the market will hit $1.94 billion by 2028. One outlier, a report from Fortune Business Insights says cobot sales will hit about $11.7 billion by 2027. (I’m sure their methodology includes a much broader slice of the industry.)

Whatever; consensus is that pandemic led to a dip of 10 or 11% in 2020, just when the darned things were needed most. The good news (at least for the robots) is a V-shaped recovery is underway as companies dust-off their delayed projects ,and will rebound and continue to grow by 15-20%, says Interact, “not as high as previously predicted, but healthy nonetheless.”

I’m not branding myself a specialist in any one technology but I do like to know who the leaders are in case I ever need to SurveyMonkey them.

In first place, Universal Robots holds a market share hovering somewhere around the 50% mark, depending on who you ask (or pay), followed by a field of others, which I’ll list alphabetically, since market leaderboards vary: ABB, Aubo, Doosan, Fanuc, K2 Kinetics, Kawasaki, Kuka, Rethink, Stäbuli, Techman, Yaskawa and…more.

Who leads for your company or project can vary by industry, application, payload, location and other factors.