Markets and Trends

Why the Robotics Industry is Poised for a $218 Billion Windfall

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Still think wide-scale robotics is the stuff of science fiction? Think again: global spending on robotics and drones solutions will total $103.1 billion in 2018 alone, a 22.1% increase over 2017. By 2021, IDC predicts that spending will double, accounting for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.4%.

Why the growing interest in robotics products and services? For one thing, advances in the technologies are creating industrial robots that are more intelligent, human-friendly, and easier to work with. Robots can now assist with higher-level functions, maximizing human worker productivity. This technological advance is why robots have rapidly expanded in the manufacturing industry beyond automotive, especially in high-tech manufacturing that requires light-weight robots with higher precision, flexibility, mobility and collaborative capabilities.

While robotics has its roots in the manufacturing sector, there is an increasing acceptance and adoption of robots in several other industries, such as resources and transportation. Organizations in these areas are attracted to the promise of greater efficiency and productivity, but they are also using robotics to address other concerns such as skills shortages, workplace safety, and keeping up with the accelerating pace of business. In fact, the retail and wholesale industries will see the fastest robotics spending growth over the forecast with CAGRs of 46.3% and 41.2%, respectively.

Another reason why robotics spending is growing so significantly is the increased use of drones throughout multiple industries. Worldwide drone spending will be $9 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow at a faster rate than the overall market in the next five years. The utilities and construction industries will see the largest drone spending in 2018, at $912 million and $824 million, respectively. Interestingly, the fastest growth in drone spending will come from the education and state/local government industries, as these entities experiment with better, safer surveillance, maintenance, and resource delivery techniques.

Learn how Digital Transformation (DX) initiatives are driving robotics investment growth; see more from IDC’s “The Rise of the Robots” infographic.


International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. With more than 1,200 analysts worldwide, IDC offers global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. IDC's analysis and insight helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based technology decisions and to achieve their key business objectives.