Over the past several years, a new wave of robot technology has offered us a glimpse at our heavily automated future, featuring drones, telepresence bots, therapeutic robots, and surgery bots that assist (or maybe take over for) doctors. The robotics industry has actually been around for a long time, with numerous companies working on warehouse automation, industrial robotics, and the like since the middle of the last century.
But as this interactive visualization from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Quid reveals, the industry is expanding at near-warp speed.
Here's a look at the robotics industry from 1950 to 1990, when it was just getting off the ground—and when robots were primarily used to take care of only dirty and boring tasks that didn't require much precision.
In the latter part of the century, we start to see drones and marine robots emerge.
Between 2001 and 2005, humanoid and bionic machinery (like this bionic arm) start to take off.
The industry gets even more complex between 2006 and 2010, as robotic cars, robotic surgery platforms, and robotic toys take the stage.
Finally, nascent sectors of the industry like bionics, telepresence, and farm drones get even bigger.
Believe it or not, the industry is still in the early stages. BCG predicts that the robotics industry will balloon from $15 billion in 2010 to $67 billion by 2025—a result of technology getting cheaper and more efficient. Most of the robots will be in the military and industrial markets, but personal robots that help out with cleaning, security, and entertainment will still make up a sizable portion of the industry. As nearly every sci-fi book has predicted in some way or another, the robots really will take over.