04 Nov 2014
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China aims to dominate the world of robot technologies

By Catherine Knowles

China will put resources and energy into creating robotic technologies, says Su Bo, vice minister of industry and information technology.

The overall goal is to set up a robotics industry that will account for 45 percent of the high-end market by 2020.

“The ministry will map out a five-year plan for the industry in a bid to improve industrial standards, enhance capital input as well as step up policy support for the sector," says Su.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology will develop a ‘robotics technology roadmap’ as part of new government plans.

Robots can complete high-end equipment manufacturing, Su says. The robots sector can help manufacturers improve their quality of product and deal with rising labour costs, and this is an important standard for evaluating a nation’s core industrial competence.

Recently, China has overtaken Japan to become the world’s biggest market for industrial robots. Total sales in the country reached about 37 thousand units in 2013, which was a 60 percent increase from 2012. Of this 9,000 robots were made domestically.

At present, the robotics sector in China is dominated by foreign firms. In fact, only three percent of robotics technologies are being successfully utilised.

Su says China had a late start in robotics, and as such must work quicker and more efficiently to catch up to competitors.

The International Federation of Robotics predicted that demand for industrial robots is rising 25 percent annually in China. It is estimated that by 2017, sales will reach 100,000 units and there will be more than 400,000 units in the country by this time.

It is not just the industrial sector that will benefit from technological advancements. Already, robots are being used increasingly in various areas such as medical care, vehicles, textiles, machinery, aviation, space flight and ship building.

According to a McKinsey report, the application of advanced robots in manufacturing, medical care and service sectors could create a maximum value worth 4.5 trillion US dollars by 2025.

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