The economics of the global robotics sector has slowed in the past several years due to transnational upsets in the global financial community but the industry remains a substantial and growing enterprise. In the countries studied in Robotics: Technologies and Global Markets (ENG001D), the market for whole robots, robot parts, robot software, and related safety materials now approaches $22 billion. BCC Research forecasts it will rise at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.9% between 2013 and 2018, when it's expected to surpass $29 billion.
BCC anticipates that the bulk of the growth in the European Union will be concentrated in the latter part of the forecast period, when robotic development initiatives now being undertaken on an EU-wide basis will result in commercialized products. The distribution of growth among different types of robots also reflects a profoundly different approach in the EU toward encouraging the development of the industry than that in the North American market. The chief difference is an EU-wide emphasis on creating a new class of robots that can safely work in near proximity to humans and safely perform personal-care tasks that will be increasingly required as the European population ages.
Regardless of the eventual level of development of medical robotics, the structural differences in the way in which physicians, surgeons, hospitals, and other portions of the healthcare industry are compensated for the services they provide will strongly favor development in the European Union, where single-payer insurance programs predominate and the cost of malpractice insurance is less burdensome than in the U.S., which constitutes the bulk of the North American market. Suppliers of robots in North America have focused most of their efforts on developing robots for military and security purposes, which command higher per-unit prices.