Annual investments in robots rose to world record $16.5 billion

Alex Tanzi

Robot shipments are expected to jump 39% from 2018 to 2022 from a record annual sales level of $16.5 billion last year, according to the World Robotics report.

More than a third of global installations were in China and the top five countries hold 74% of the market. Japan, Korea, U.S and Germany round out this group. China’s investment in robots reached $5.4 billion last year.

In this Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, photo, a man checks on the robotic arms at a factory making industrial robots in Zhengyu town of Haimen city in east China's Jiangsu province.

“We saw a dynamic performance in 2018 with a new sales record, even as the main customers for robots the automotive and electrical-electronics industry had a difficult year,” says Junji Tsuda, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “The US-China trade conflict imposes uncertainty to the global economy customers tend to postpone investments.”

More than 420,000 robots were installed last year and that figure is expected to jump to 584,000 by 2022. In 2013, the number of robots in place was 178,000.

In terms of robot density, or number of robots per 10,000 manufacturing employees, Singapore and Korea hold a considerable lead in highly-automated industrial production.

Note: The 2018 total annual global robot sales value of $16.5 billion excludes software.