|Ping Pong Playing Robot, Zhejiang University|
From 50.000 to 1 million in three Years
According to IFR statistics 2011 there were 52,290 industrial robots in China of which approximately 10,000 were in Foxconn factories. But the company has announced plans to invest in 1 million industrial robots within three years, aimed to increase productivity and quality in its plants.
Foxcon's parent company Hon Hai Precision Industry plans to mass produce industrial robots as part of its efforts to cope with labour shortages and rising wages. The project, which is initially forecast to cost US$ 223 million (Tw$6.7 billion ), was unveiled by Terry Gou, chairman of the conglomerate, in Oct 2011 when he broke ground for the construction of a research and development unit in Taichung, central Taiwan.
Hong Kong based Jetta Company Limited has several manufacturing locations in China and has been manufacturing OEM products since 1977. The company manufacturers iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaning robots and has recently expanded one of its facilities to increase capacity for the production of Roomba and Scooba robots.
Jetta. Jetta manufacturers also toy robot PLEO and has bought the intellectual property rights and other assets in 2009 after Ugobe has filed for bankruptcy.
Kin Yat Industrial Co. Ltd. has been in business since 1981, has several manufacturing locations in China, and began manufacturing iRobot Roomba 500 series in 2007.
|PaPeRo, NEC, Japan|
|UNISROBO, Unis Corp., CN|
Robotics research started in early 70th but very slowly. From 1985 robotics research was supported by the five year national plans. In China robots are categorized in industrial and special robots. Special robots include service robots, underwater robots, military robots, agricultural robots, micro-operation robots. Chinese economy is still in fast developing period, and it is expected that the robotics R&D and its applications will have more progress in the coming ten years in China.
Chinese Robot to the Moon
An even greater future challenge will be elderly care. China has the world's largest elderly population with 159 million people over 60, accounting for 12 percent of its total population. According to a survey by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, more than 10 million caretakers and nurses are needed to attend the elderly population, as most of Chinese elderly prefer to live their retired lives at home.
Shortage of Workers
China's one child policy will very soon result in a shrinking number of workers. According to prof. Chen Xiaoping from University of Science & Technology of China more robots are needed to provide work force to society and for the support in everyday life. There are several projects under way to develop domestic service robots that might help the elderly in the future. Even here the similarities with projects in Japan and Europe are obvious.