The International Federation of Robots (IFR) released its 2016 World Robotics Report last week, highlighting the future of compact, user-friendly collaborative robots (cobots) that are expected to drive the automation market.

The report states that human-robot collaboration will see a “breakthrough” that allows robots and humans to work safely side-by-side without any fences while still increasing production efficiency and quality. Predictions show that worldwide annual sales of industrial robots may increase by at least 13 per cent on average per year from 2017 to 2019.

By 2019, more than 1.4 million new industrial robots will be installed in factories around the world, bringing the total number to around 2.6 million

Industries predicted to adopt robots at higher rates include automotive, the plastics industry, electronics assembly, and the machine tool sectors.

While the Americas region is expected to have significant growth in the years to come, the IFR report predicts that China will remain the main driver of robot growth. China is expected to continue its dominance in the market with almost 40 per cent of the global robot supply being installed in China by 2019.

“As the market leader of the robot industry, Universal Robots welcomes the report which confirms the validity of our mission: lowering barriers and enabling automation in areas previously considered too complex or costly,” Daniel Friss, the company’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement. “Our installed base of more than 10,000 cobots worldwide illustrates the dramatic growth potential of the game-changing automation technology. We enable small and medium-sized enterprises to optimize their competitiveness on the global stage with an average robot payback period of just 195 days.”

As the demand for consumer goods across the globe incentives manufacturers to create innovative and high-quality products more quickly, consistently, and sustainably, cobots represent a new tool that can be used to meet that demand.