Non-humanoid robots are already at work in many factories, performing standardized, repetitive tasks at low cost and with high efficiency.
Humanoid robots, however, have been much harder to design and bring to market. To have human-like behaviors and take on roles such as teaching, job training, personal assistance, caregiving, running errands, entertaining and food service, they need to be much more complex and advanced than anything on the market today, including self-driving vehicles.
So far, no company has succeeded in developing commercially viable human-like robots that could help us tackle the more sophisticated tasks we hope to offload.
However, this doesn’t mean humanoid robots are science fiction. They may be making their way into our lives sooner than you think.
Our current US manufacturing labor shortage is predicted to worsen through the next decade. Could humanoid robots come to the rescue?
Goldman Sachs Research estimates we could have at least a $6 billion market in humanoid robots in the next 10 to 15 years. This would fill 4% of the projected US manufacturing labor shortage by 2030.
In a best-case or “blue sky” scenario, that market could reach $154 billion by 2035 and fill about 48% to 126% of our predicted manufacturing labor gap.
Consumer and household applications will come a little later because the challenges are harder to solve. These include many different application scenarios, more varied object recognition and more complicated navigation, as well as lower price points.
But Goldman Sachs (GS) analysts believe, under certain assumptions, humanoid robots could be economically viable in factories between 2025 and 2028 and in consumer applications between 2030 and 2035.
GS researchers point out several major challenges we need to overcome to make humanoid robots a productive part of our lives:
Today’s still-struggling humanoid robots may have far to go, but the path is clear. Humanoid robot technologies are not revolutionary. They are an evolution of related applications like automation, autonomous driving and AI, and as we continue to make progress in those areas, our human-like counterparts will benefit as well.
But humanoid robots are more than just an evolution of advanced technology: They are an incomplete reflection of our own humanity. And this raises its own issues, especially in consumer applications. How will ordinary people react and respond to their new helpers?
As engineers continue to make advancements in humanoid robotics, these are just some of the big questions for us to think about before the technology arrives on our doorsteps.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Articles on this site were commissioned and approved by Marcus by Goldman Sachs® but may not reflect the institutional opinions of Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Goldman Sachs Bank USA or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions.