Service robotics will become an important indstrial sector according to future visions in Japan, Korea and Europe. Bill Gates expects "A robot in every home" anticipate service robots that can assist senior citizens wiith personal care. In the home of the future we will meet home assistants, secretary robots, security assistants and sports assistants. In hospital nursing robots and medical robot for operations will do the jobbs. In industry transportation robots and partner robots will support workers. In the office cleaning robots, office assistants and robotic guides will take the lead. Security robots will be used for reconnaissance, surveillance of buildings/borders, disaster response.
Service robots will be needed in the future to cope with demographic change, with a growing number of of elderly people and a decline of workforce. Stefan Müller, president of International Federation of Robotics, IFR, means that robots are needed to maintain the manufacturing industry and keep pace with an ever-increasing demand for quality. At the same time, people want to live in their own homes for as long as possible in old age, but supportive family structures are increasingly disappearing. The ideal solution according to Stefan Müller would be a "health care robot".
The service robotics market is still small but its future prospects seems to be great. Service robots are highly individual and are used in a wide variety ofapplications: underwater, for cleaning, defense or security, or in the medical sector. According to IFR/UNECE a total of 31,600 service robots for professional use were sold worldwide up to the end of 2005. Between 2006 to 2009, the number of robots sold is forecast to rise by a further 34,000 robots.
In private homes service robots are are used above all as vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers or in the area of hobbies and leisure. Up to the end of 2005, a total of 2.9 million service robots were sold, and this figure is expected to increase to 5.5 million units between 2006 and 2009.
A mass market for household robots needs inexpensive components and high productivity in manufacturing, which means heavy automation and industrial robotics.