New applications for robots are growing rapidly, as more industries adopt the technology. Worldwide purchases of robotics, including drones and robotics-related hardware, software and services, will total $97.2 billion in 2017 -- that's an increase of 17.9 percent over 2016, according to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).
IDC forecasts that overall robotics related spending will accelerate over a five-year period, reaching $230.7 billion in 2021 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.8 percent.
Robotics and AI Market Development
"The convergence of robotics and artificial intelligence or machine learning are driving the development of the next generation of intelligent robots for industrial, commercial, and consumer applications," said Dr. Jing Bing Zhang, research director at IDC.
Robots with innovative capabilities such as ease of use, self-diagnosis, zero downtime, learning and adaptation, and cognitive interaction are emerging, thereby driving wider adoption of robotics solutions to a wide variety of applications.
The Discrete Manufacturing and Process Manufacturing industries will continue to be the largest purchasers of robotics products and services with 2017 spending totals of $30.5 billion and $24.1 billion, respectively.
Combined, these two industries will account for more than half of all robotics spending throughout the forecast period. The Resource industries -- which include mining, oil & gas extraction, and agriculture -- will be the third largest robotics market in 2017 with global spending of nearly $9.0 billion.
The industries that will see the fastest spending growth over the 2016-2021 forecast period are Education (71.9 percent CAGR), Retail (51.3 percent CAGR), Construction (38.3 percent CAGR), Wholesale (37.2 percent CAGR), and Insurance (36.3 percent CAGR).
Technology advancements in mobile robots and collaborative robots are creating opportunities to deploy robots in new areas outside of the more traditional industrial manufacturing processes. The use cases that will capture the largest share of robotics spending are driven by their respective industries.
As the primary use case in the Discrete Manufacturing industry, assembly, welding and painting is forecast to receive nearly a quarter of all robotics spending worldwide throughout the forecast. Similarly, the primary use case in the Process Manufacturing industry (mixing) will capture more than 15 percent of all robotics spending.
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 percent CAGR), educational assistance (68.3 percent CAGR), and delivery to customer (60.6 percent CAGR).
Outlook for Robotic Systems and Services
According to the IDC assessment, more than half of all robotics spending this year ($50.7 billion) and throughout the forecast will go to robotics systems, after-market robotics hardware, and systems hardware.
Services-related spending, which encompasses applications management, education & training, hardware deployment, systems integration, and consulting, will total more than $24 billion in 2017 while spending on command and control, specific robotics applications, and network infrastructure software will reach $15.2 billion.
Purchases of drones and after-market drone hardware will be nearly $7 billion this year and represent the two fastest growing categories of robotics spending throughout the forecast, followed by education and training.