Most of the robots around the world are shipped to factories, where the machines will be used to make other machines, like cars, laptops and dishwashers.
As more people buy more new gadgets, the market for the industrial robots that build devices is poised to grow — 175 percent over the next nine years, according to data from Loup Ventures.
But the driver of much of that growth isn’t going to be from the room-sized metal industrial arms that have been piecing together cars for decades.
Rather, a new generation of manufacturing robots is emerging that is more collaborative, smaller and more perceptive than traditional machinery. Collaborative robots, which Loup projects will account for 34 percent of the industrial robots sold by 2025, are designed to work safely with and alongside people in factories.
In 2016, collaborative robots only represented 3 percent of industrial robots sold.
These robots are smaller and have more sensors, which help them react faster and with more intelligence when approaching another object or a human, so as not to apply too much force and stop operating when appropriate.
Collaborative robots are generally cheaper than traditional robots too, ranging from $25,000 to $45,000, whereas traditional factory floor robots can cost upward of $100,000 each.
That cheaper price tag, combined with the fact that the collaborative robotic arms are typically also smaller and have more nimble movements, could open the doors to more types of manufacturing plants to start to adopt robots on their production lines.
Here’s an example of a collaborative robot named Baxter made by Rethink Robotics, a U.S.-based robot manufacturer.
In another example, a medical device manufacturer that runs a smaller factory might be able to start automating some of its assembly line using smaller, less-expensive collaborative robots; traditional industrial robots were typically too big, dangerous or expensive to install to be worth the investment.
Robots for automotive manufacturing currently make up the bulk of the industrial robots sold in the world. But as robots get smaller, cheaper and become better at working alongside humans, Loup predicts robots in electronics manufacturing will match the demand of robots in automotive factories by 2025.
This year, the market value of industrial robots worldwide is estimated to hit $14 billion, up 13 percent from last year, according to the data from Loup, with more than 20 percent more units sold than in 2016.
And by 2025, the market for industrial robots is projected to balloon to $33.8 billion. To put that in perspective, in 2016 the global industrial robot market was valued at $12.3 billion. So in less than 10 years, the market value of industrial robots could nearly triple.
Growth is already under way. Factories are actually buying a lot more robots now than they have in previous years. In North America alone there were 32 percent more robots bought in the first quarter of 2017 than at the same time last year. But more robots sold doesn’t mean the market value of the industry will rise at the same rate, since the uptick in sales, in part, is due to the price of robots going down.
Additional reporting by Rani Molla.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.