Worldwide spending on robotics to hit US$230.7 billion in 2021, says IDC

Worldwide spending on robotics to hit US$230.7 billion in 2021, says IDC

AI and machine learning are driving robotics for industrial, commercial, and consumer use

Rebecca Gibson |

Worldwide spending on robotics will hit US$230.7 billion in 2021, according to a new IDC Spending Guide.

IDC’s Worldwide Semiannual Commercial Robotics Spending Guide predicts that worldwide purchases of robotics – including drones and robotics-related hardware, software and services – will reach a total of US$97.2 billion in 2017, an increase of 17.9% from 2016. This spending is likely to continue rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.8% over the next five years to total US$230.7 billion in 2021.

More than half of all robotics spending this year (US$50.7 billion) and throughout the forecast will go to robotics systems, after-market robotics hardware, and systems hardware. Services-related spending will total more than US$24 billion in 2017, covering applications management, education and training, hardware deployment, systems integration, and consulting. Meanwhile, spending on command and control, specific robotics applications, and network infrastructure software will reach US$15.2 billion. Investments in drones and after-market drone hardware will be nearly US$7.0 billion this year, and these technologies will represent the two fastest growing categories of robotics spending throughout the forecast, followed by education and training.

“The convergence of robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning are driving the development of the next generation of intelligent robots for industrial, commercial, and consumer applications,” said Jing Bing Zhang, research director of robotics at IDC Manufacturing Insights. “Robots with innovative capabilities such as ease of use, self-diagnosis, zero downtime, learning and adaptation, and cognitive interaction are emerging and driving wider adoption of robotics in the manufacturing and resource industries and enabling new uses in healthcare, insurance, education, and retail.”

According to IDC’s research, the discrete manufacturing and process manufacturing industries will continue to be the largest purchasers of robotics products and services, spending US$30.5 billion and US$24.1 billion in 2017, respectively. Combined, these two industries will account for more than half of all robotics spending throughout the five-year forecast.

Almost a quarter of the robotics spend in the discrete manufacturing industry will be directed towards assembly, welding and painting. Other robotics use cases that will drive spending include automated production – mining and pick and pack (wholesale). The use cases that will see the fastest growth in robotics spending over the forecast period include break bulk (71.6% CAGR), educational assistance (68.3% CAGR), and delivery to customer (60.6% CAGR).

The resources industries – including mining, oil and gas extraction, and agriculture – will be the third largest robotics market in 2017, with global spending reaching nearly US$9.0 billion. Meanwhile, the industries that will see the fastest spending growth over the 2016-2021 forecast period are education (71.9% CAGR), retail (51.3% CAGR), construction (38.3% CAGR), wholesale (37.2% CAGR), and insurance (36.3% CAGR).

“We continue to see strong demand for robotics across a wide range of industries,” said John Santagate, research manager of supply chain at IDC Manufacturing Insights. “Technology advancements in mobile robots and collaborative robots are opening up opportunities to deploy robots in new areas outside of the more traditional industrial manufacturing processes. While technology improvements are helping to fuel demand, the increased demand is incentivising innovators in the field to invest in delivering robots that are capable of performing a wider range of tasks.”

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