• The multibillion-dollar global market for robotics, long dominated by industrial and logistics uses, has begun to see a shift toward new consumer and office applications. There will be a $1.5 billion market for consumer and business robots by 2019. 
  • The market for consumer and office robots will grow at a CAGR of 17% between 2014 and 2019, seven times faster than the market for manufacturing robots. 
  • The consumer/office robot market is currently led by three distinct categories: home cleaning and maintenance, “telepresence” (i.e., telecommuting to events or remote offices), and advanced robots for home entertainment. Other applications, such as robots that assist people with handicaps, are still nascent. 
  •  The ubiquity of smartphones and tablets has made it easier to develop robots for consumer and office applications. Mobile devices offer designers the opportunity to "outsource" computing and user interface tasks to companion devices, allowing developers to produce app-controlled robots at more accessible price points. 
  • Would-be robot vendors face some major obstacles: one is the well-studied revulsion that most people feel toward robots that are too humanoid in appearance, and another is the high price demanded for key technologies that power robot mobility and object manipulation. There is also a brewing potential for the kinds of intellectual property battles we’ve seen in the smartphone space.


Robots have fascinated us for generations. That we might be able to create and control machines that are smarter, faster, and more resilient than humans has been a staple of science fiction films for decades. For at least as long, futurists have predicted a world in which robots perform dull, dangerous, or dirty tasks so humans can focus their energies elsewhere.

Robots have been a reality on factory assembly lines for over twenty years. But it is only relatively recently that robots have advanced beyond the factory floor. Robots are now beginning to penetrate into homes and office settings. They're being widely used to clean and maintain our homes, and increasingly, to facilitate telecommuting.


Three interrelated trends have helped create the emerging market in consumer and business robots.

Most importantly, artificial intelligence and navigation systems have advanced enough to allow for the development of autonomous or semi-autonomous robots that are able to perform [...]