Recent years have seen the development of a significant personal robot market beyond just toys, although even in entertainment robots (toys), there has been substantial improvement over the wind-up robots of the past.
A wider range of task robots is on the market and in development, and entertainment robots have expanded in capability and fallen in price as well.
Advances in military and commercial robots will continue to trickle down to the consumer market, and components will see price declines driven by their use in other markets (for example, laser rangefinders in the automotive industry), according to the ABI Research market study "Personal Robotics 2009: Task, Security & Surveillance/Telepresence, Entertainment and Education Robot, and Robotic Components Markets Through 2015."
This study finds the personal robotics market in 2009 will achieve a global value of $1.16 billion, and forecasts the market will more than quadruple by 2015, when worldwide shipments will be valued at $5.26 billion.
The personal robotics market encompasses consumer robotic products that have some intelligence, interface with their environment through sensors, and perform a desired function.
This function may be to perform a task, to act as a security system, to entertain people, or to be used as an educational tool.
The study finds North America is the largest market for personal robots. The second-largest market for personal robots is the Asia-Pacific region, in part due to Japan, where the culture embraces robots.
Western Europe will grow to become a significant market, but Europeans are interested less in the cachet of owning a robot, and more in how well the robot performs its task.
Says study author Marc Liggio, the main personal robot market segments that have thrived in recent years are vacuum cleaner robots and entertainment robots.
"Telepresence is a big buzzword in the personal robotics market. Robots with telepresence capabilities facilitate the interaction of a remote user with people and the environment through the robot. Telepresence is a coming business solution which, while probably not sufficient in itself, may become a necessary component of personal robots."