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Robotics Market Hits Record High

June 29th, 2016 by Rebecca Norman

Assistive robotics technologies are now prevalent in factories, hospitals, cars, farms and home at a greater level than ever before. June 9 marked the 5-year anniversary of the National Robotics Initiative (NRI), a multi-agency effort to accelerate the development and use of robots that work beside or cooperatively with people and solve problems in areas of national priority. Participating agencies in this initiative include the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes for Health (NIH), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Energy (DOE). Federal co-robotics research investments help ensure US economic growth and improved quality of life. The next proposal deadline for the NRI program solicitation is January 12, 2017.

In a recent news release, The Robotic Industries Association reported that in the first quarter of 2016, a total of 7,406 robots valued at approximately $402 million were ordered from North American companies. This figure represents a new record among opening quarters with a 7% growth from the 2015 first quarter. Robot shipments also set a new opening quarter record in 2016, with a growth of over 2% from the 2015 first quarter. The automotive industry remains the largest in terms of volume for robotics. However, the biggest increases in robotic applications were spot welding (31%), assembly (15%) and material handling (6%).

Jeff Burstein, President of RIA said, “It is encouraging to see so many new companies adopting robotics for use in their operations. Companies of all sizes are realizing that robots are more affordable than ever before and can help them increase their productivity to remain competitive in today’s global economy.”

Burnstein noted that today’s robots can handle complex tasks at fast speeds, leading to high productivity for customers. “Disruptive innovations like collaborative robots are helping to drive adoption of robotics in new and exciting ways, and that is promising for the future of our industry,” he said.

The NSF has developed an infographic that shows various areas of robotic-related investigation supported by the agency as well as data of 5 years of NRI investments. You can also watch a new video, Generation Robot that highlights the past, present and future of robotics—including music played by robots. The NSF’s special report and portal to stories on sensors, mobility computer vision and artificial intelligence can be accessed here.

Harvard and Northeastern University  robotocists are developing flying microrobots, nicknamed RoboBees, that may represent an alternative for small drones and could serve key roles in agriculture or disaster relief.

If you use Twitter, you can keep up with the latest robotics news using hashtag #GenerationR.