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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Service Robotics Outlook 2011

Credit: Schunk
On February 23 and 24, 2011 over 100 experts from 22 nations met at the 4th annual Expert Days on Service Robotics, hosted by SCHUNK, a German medium-sized family company and considered to be the worldwide competence leader in clamping technology and gripping systems. This years event focused on market development and efficiency of service robots. The general message was that service robots have left the stadium of university research, and are increasingly used by industrial companies for specific applications. Speakers from the industry presented projects covering fully automatic laboratory automation system for quality control during the cement production process, research on service robots for picking of parts in the automotive industry, service robots for bomb disposal and service robots for control of the air quality in clean rooms.
Among the academic speakers Professor Dr. Henrik I. Christensen, holder of the “KUKA Chair of Robotics“ at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, USA pointed out that many service robot solutions are technologically mature, but still too expensive for real-world applications. He proposes a change from technologically driven research to more market- and price-orientated development. In his opinion service robots can only succeed if costs keep within budget. For consumer robots he considered a price level of $200 to $300 as realistic. In the healthcare industry, the price limit might be about $10,000. Other speakers pointed out the need of system integration as a substantial portion of value creation. System integrators specialized for individual fields of application are needed to close the gap between manufacturers and users. An important driver for market development are binding standards for service robot platforms and components.
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SCHUNK has more than 1,800 employees worldwide, most of them in the manufacturing locations Lauffen, Brackenheim-Hausen and Mengen in Germany. SCHUNK has manufacturing locations also in the USA and in China and 23 fully-owned subsidaries all around the world. Sales in 2008: 206 Mio. Euro (+14%) Export 40%.

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