The market for industrial robotics systems is currently worth $29 billion a year worldwide, and this number is bound to skyrocket. Additionally, non-industrial robotics is a rapidly growing field of business. Interestingly enough the competition within the field of robotics seems not to be between firms. The battling entities are nations.
A multitude of national and continental programmes for robotics have seen the dawn of day in the recent years. According to Reuters, the EU bets $125 million a year on the field in its Horizon 2020 initiative, with an additional $2.5 billion in annual funding from industrial companies. In turn, South Korea is set to spend $500 million a year on robotics in the coming five years and China has already eclipsed Japan as the biggest robotics market in the world and is betting aggressively on domestic development. The U.S. is also seen as a huge competitor to Japan, and its enormous spending in military R&D is continuously propelling the robotics industry towards new frontiers.
Now, Japan is leveraging the issue to top national level. It is not often you hear the highest politicians of a nation even mention the word robots, but in Japan even the prime minister is addressing the topic. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised to dissolve regulatory aspects of the industry in order to push the pace of innovation to new heights. Deregulation and strategic funding is at the heart of the plan and the main target is to treble the market for robots in Japan by 2020, writes RoboHub.
What have composed regulatory barriers up until now are the hurdles created by mandating absolute safety for the robotics in their specific fields of application. Of course there will still be regulation, but even if it seems irresponsible not to demand absolute safety it is a risk more countries probably will be willing to take in order to speed up innovation and impressive performance.
Japanese ministries have requested $138 million in governmental investment for robotics during the next fiscal year. We will soon be aware of what this amount of money coupled with the decreased barriers for products to market will bring the world. The robotics war between nations is starting to resemble a race to the moon and that is truly intriguing.