Robots and Systems
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London West Hotel, SW6.    Wednesday 3rd July 1985

Peter Mathews

The Micro Robotic Market is growing fast.

chart of the development of the market

It started in mid-1982 with a flurry of development of small robots costing 400 to 900 which gradually developed their sales so that last year's turnover of the fifteen companies in the field came to 5 million.

In the first month of 1984, two companies have announced their arrival on the market, one of which is associated with Sinclair microcomputers and next year's market will undoubtedly triple.

The next few years will show a growth rate even more dramatic in percentage terms than this 100% plus so far. Many estimates have been made which attempt to give a projection to the end of the century, most of them in excess of 1 billion.

The expotential growth has been attended by a similar volatile expansion in applications and attempted applications. The first and still the overwhelming application has been for educational use. The physics, mathematics, electronics and computing interests in fifth and sixth forms, polytechnics and universities is voracious in its need to demonstrate computer control by robots of varying sizes and complexity.

The resultant projects that come from the use of the robot such as maths, trigenometry, algebra and many other subjects has made the device an accepted part of the education scene. It has been estimated that 90% of all robots are sold for educational purposes to a wide range of institutions, not all of them schools.

There is a change in the use of the robot market over the last three or four months, mainly stemming from the growing interest in the toy industry.

Up to now, there has been a tendency to sell assembled robots which plug into microcomputers with their own program.

This is now beginning to change with several manufacturers beginning to produce kits which are motorised and snap together in a number of configurations.

This is going to (and indeed already has) make a considerable difference to the educational sector and will do considerable things to the computer hobbyist market.

These are in the process of being analysed.

Our place in the market is, at the moment, providing compute] interface capability for these kits and the software that goes with them.

This is a quite specialized sector of the market and surprisingly quite neglected.

PFM/NR 28.2.85.