Sensors and robots are destined to be together

23rd May 2016
Joe Bush

The drones and robots market is expected to grow at CAGR of 9.4% between 2015 and 2021, reaching a total revenue of $46bn by 2021. In its latest report, Yole Développement (Yole) highlighted that: “More and better sensors means more and better robots.”

In addition, More than Moore, the market research and strategy consulting company added that: “Most technologies are ready today; the market will see step by step integration of those technologies within robots and drones systems.” Acoustic, optical, position, touch, electromagnetic and environmental sensors are part of the drones and robots revolution.

Within the new robots and drones report, named ‘Sensors for drones and robots: market opportunities and technology revolution’, Yole’s analysts propose a detailed technology roadmap presenting the evolution of sensor technologies (basic sensing - replication of humans senses and advanced sensing technology) and related robots and drones.

From 2010 to 2021, Yole detail the status of the technology, its added value compared to existing solutions, the time to market and the related competitive landscape. This report is the first one from Yole’s market research company dedicated to drones and robots. Sensor forecasts, market drivers, major global players, market and technology segmentation are all part of the report.

Key technologies such as 3D cameras, solid-state LIDAR and ultra-precise gyroscope are in development. Emerging players like Parrot, iRobot, and DJI Innovations have been able to extract significant value from their technology and market vision. Agile and technology savvy, these companies are the templates for new drones and robots companies because of their ability to create from scratch new sensing subsystems like Vision SLAM from iRobot, Parrot’s electronic stabilisation camera, and the gyro-stabilised gimbals from DJI. Complete mastery of sensing technology is critical for drones and robots companies.

On the flip side, the sensors being developed today have a hard time finding the critical market size needed to sustain R&D efforts. Sensor companies usually rely on other markets or hope for the development of another. Therefore, a certain mismatch exists between system maker expectations and sensor company behaviour. At worst, this can be the source of missed opportunities for the entire ecosystem. Yole’s report aims to provide the big picture for this emerging field, along with some background on the potential business at sake.

“Ultrasonic rangers, proximity sensors, inertial monitoring units, magnetic and optical encoders, and of course compact camera modules are all ready to be integrated by drones and robot manufacturers,” commented Pierre Cambou, Activity Leader, Imaging at Yole. On the other hand, new sensors are preparing to transform the world. Several technologies revolving around 3D sensing including 3D cameras, sonar, radar or LIDAR, and other modalities such as multi-spectral, IR imaging and gas sensing will be necessary for the robotics revolution to deliver on its promises. Drones and robots are a key opportunity for sensor and system makers, with potentially huge mutual benefits.

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