Inside Logistics

Spending on robotics and drones to reach US$115.7 billion in 2019

Worldwide market for commercial service robotics will continue to grow at a rate of 20 per cent per year for the coming five years


December 6, 2018
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FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts worldwide spending on robotics systems and drones will total $115.7 billion in 2019, an increase of 17.6 per cent over 2018. By 2022, IDC expects this spending will reach $210.3 billion with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.2 per cent.

Robotics systems will be the larger of the two categories throughout the five-year forecast period with worldwide robotics spending forecast to be $103.4 billion in 2019. Investments in drones will total $12.3 billion in 2019 but are forecast to grow at a faster rate (30.6 per cent CAGR) than robotics systems (18.9 per cent CAGR).

Robotics spending in 2019 will be dominated by hardware purchases, with nearly two thirds of all spending going toward robotic systems, after-market robotics hardware, and system hardware. Purchases of industrial robots and service robots will deliver nearly 30 per cent of the category total in 2019.

Robotics-related software spending will largely go toward purchases of command and control applications and robotics-specific applications. Services spending will be spread across several segments, including systems integration, application management, and hardware deployment and support. Software spending is forecast to grow at a slightly faster rate (21.7 per cent CAGR) than services or hardware spending (19.0 per cent CAGR and 18.2 per cent CAGR, respectively).

Discrete manufacturing will be responsible for nearly half of all robotics systems spending worldwide in 2019, generating $50.2 billion in revenues. The next largest industries for robotics systems will be process manufacturing, resource industries, healthcare, and consumers. The industries that will see the fastest growth in robotics spending over the 2017-2022 forecast are wholesale (31.4 per cent CAGR), retail (29.6 per cent CAGR), and construction (28.1 per cent CAGR). By 2022, IDC expects retail will overtake consumer spending on robotics systems.

“The worldwide market for commercial service robotics will continue to grow at a rate of 20 per cent per year for the coming five years,” said John Santagate, research director for commercial service robotics at IDC.

“This growth is due to continued innovation in ease of use as well as the drive for flexible automation across industries. We expect to see growth driven by increased adoption of autonomous mobile robots and collaborative robots being deployed as a means to deliver improvements in capacity, productivity, and efficiency.”

Spending on drones will also be dominated by hardware purchases with roughly 90 per cent of the category total going toward drones and after-market drone hardware. Consumer drones will account for roughly 40 per cent of the category total in 2019 with service drones delivering another 18 per cent.

Similar to robotics systems, drone software spending will primarily go to command and control applications and drone-specific applications. Services spending will be led by education and training and will see the fastest growth (35.9 per cent CAGR) over the five-year forecast, followed by software (33.9 per cent CAGR) and hardware (301 per cent CAGR).

Industry spending on drones in 2019 will be led by utilities ($1.4 billion), construction ($1.05 billion) and discrete manufacturing ($913 million). The industries that will experience the fastest growth in drone spending over the five-year forecast period will be federal/central government (56.0 per cent CAGR), education (51.0 per cent CAGR), and retail (42.01 per cent CAGR).

By 2022, IDC expects the resource industry to move ahead of both construction and discrete manufacturing to become the second largest industry for drone spending.

“The market is working to simplify the use and integration of drones with efforts ranging from enabling new drone applications through improved technological capabilities to understanding the regulatory implications of drones and the viability of these applications. Drones are developing new skills, coupling 3D mapping and fully autonomous navigation capabilities with rapid improvements in battery performance and air-traffic management systems. Drone adopters continue to search for a safe, cost-efficient, and repeatable drone solution that can be easily implemented in a variety of situations and use cases,” said Stacey Soohoo, research manager, Customer insights and analysis at IDC.

On a geographic basis, China will be the largest region for drones and robotics systems with overall spending of $38.5 billion in 2019. Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan and China) (APeJC) will be the second largest region with $23.3 billion in spending, followed by the United States ($17.2 billion) and Western Europe ($13.0 billion). China will also be the leading region for robotics systems with $36.1 billion in spending this year.

The United States will be the largest region for drones in 2019 at $4.8 billion. China will deliver the fastest spending growth in both categories with a five-year CAGR of 24.6 per cent for robotics systems and 63.5 per cent for drones.