The sales volume of hybrid robots in China leaped from 185 units in 2017 to 1,169 units in 2022, with a CAGR of nearly 45%, says a recent study.
According to GGII, a Chinese research and consulting company dedicated to robotics, the market for hybrid robotics is projected to increase at 40% in 2023, with sales likely to exceed 1,600 units.
Hybrid mobile robots are automatic systems that use a combination of wheels (or tracks) and legs in different configurations to perform locomotion.
GGII also published a ranking of the top five hybrid robot manufacturers in China by shipment in 2022, based on public information and surveys of industrial experts.
The manufacturers that make the list are Youibot (优艾智合), Standard Robots (斯坦德机器人), Kung Fu Robotics (功夫机器人), Li-Gong (里工) and Sage (飒智智能).
The GGII report states that the list-makers mainly focus on segments such as CNC machine tools, 3C, and semiconductors — characterized by their “high requirements, high standards, and high barriers.”
Among them, automatic loading and unloading of CNC machine tool and semiconductor wafer handling are applications that prove to be the most demanding and have already achieved large-scale adoption.
GGII believes that hybrid robot is a market that requires meticulous cultivation.
With deep integration of innovative technologies and industrial know-how, the competitive, scale, and brand advantages of leading enterprises in the sector will become increasingly prominent, the study adds.
Hybrid robot has been regarded as a subfield of automated guided vehicle (AGV) since its inception.
Driven by new technologies and applications, this category will gradually expand, with the potential to become a new growth driver within mobile and industrial robotics, and eventually evolve into an independent segment.
In addition to homegrown players, robotic arm manufacturers, general chassis builders and system integrators are also joining the race to roll out hybrid robots.
For example, ABB and Fanuc have continuously dabbled in hybrid robotics. In January this year, Fanuc launched its SMR hybrid robot.
However, hybrid robots still need to tackle technical and market problems in order to achieve widespread adoption, according to GGII’s report.
Technology-wise, the category has yet to realize “software-hardware integration.”
GGII pointed out that most manufacturers have not truly achieved compatibility between multiple systems, such as control system, operating system, and scheduling system, resulting in high deployment costs and long delivery cycles.
Additionally, the high price poses a major hurdle to higher market penetration. A hybrid robot often carries a sticker price of hundreds of thousands of yuan or even millions of yuan.
Although its price has dropped significantly in recent years, it’s still high compared to other types of mobile robots.
GGII concluded that in order for hybrid robots to flourish, further integration of the supply chain is required, where a closer nexus between technological innovation and production can lead to steeper price cuts.
At the same time, chassis manufacturers should adopt a diversified sales model to expand market share, GGII suggested.