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Global Robot Report 2021 presented

Investment in robot research higher than ever

27.05.2021 - As the economy gradually opens up after the pandemic, Asia, Europe and America are adjusting their funding programs for robotics research. But what are the goals of the officially operated government programs today? The International Federation of Robotics has researched and published the results with the 2021 update of the "World Robotics R&D Programs".

“The first version of our report 'World Robotics R&D Programs' was presented in June last year. Since then, dozen of countries have updated their robotics research and development programs, "says Prof. Dr. Jong-Oh Park, IFR Research Committee Vice-Chair and Executive Board member." The five most advanced robotics countries - South Korea, Japan, Germany , USA and China - have very different strategic focuses. "

Research & Development in Robotics - Official Government Programs

The strategic plan "Made in China 2025" serves as a blueprint for improving the manufacturing capacities of Chinese industry. In order to promote the rapid development of intelligent robot technology, the important special program "Intelligent Robots" was launched, which includes the innovation chain. The focus is on fundamental, cutting-edge technologies of intelligent robots, new generation robots, common key technologies, industrial robots, service robots and special robots. The development goals are based on continuous growth in industrial use. China wants to develop at least three leading companies with international competitiveness and create more than five clusters of robot-assisting industries. The statistical yearbook "World Robotics" of the International Federation of Robotics shows that China has already achieved a robot density of 187 units per 10,000 workers in the manufacturing industry - this puts the country in 15th place worldwide.

In Japan, the "New Robot Strategy" aims to make the country the world's number one in the field of robot innovation. The rate of robotization in the manufacturing sector is to be increased by 25 percent for large companies and 10 percent for SMEs. An important performance indicator is also to expand the market for system integrators - they work as an intermediary between manufacturer and user. The action plan covers important areas of service robotics such as agriculture, infrastructure and healthcare. The nursing & medical sector alone has a budget of US $ 997.3 million and supports the health data reform through practical robot applications and the use of artificial intelligence. According to the statistical yearbook "World Robotics" of the International Federation of Robotics, Japan is the world's leading manufacturer of industrial robots and in 2019 covered a total of 47 percent of global demand.

With the “Intelligent Robot Development and Supply Promotion Act”, South Korea is promoting the development of the country's robot industry as the core industry of the fourth industrial revolution. Areas of focus are manufacturing operations (with a special program to increase the competitiveness of SME manufacturing locations), certain areas of service robotics (including healthcare and logistics), and key components and software for robots. For the intergovernmental project "Full Cycle Medical Device Development" the government plans a budget of 1.07 billion US dollars (1.2 trillion KRW) from 2020 to 2025. The statistical yearbook "World Robotics" of the International Federation of Robotics shows set a new record number of around 319,000 industrial robots in South Korea for 2019 (+13 percent). Within five years, the country has doubled the number of its industrial robots in operation. In 2019, the country took third place after Japan and China.

The new European framework program Horizon Europe promotes research and innovation in the period from 2021 to 2027. Building on the results and successes of Horizon 2020, the new edition supports top research, innovators and the general public in providing knowledge and solutions for a green, digital and healthy future develop. The robotics work program is embedded in Cluster 4 “Digital, Industry and Space”. Robotics R&D projects focus on digital change in manufacturing and construction, autonomous solutions to support workers, improved cognition and human-robot collaboration. The robotics-specific work program 2021-2022 in Cluster 4 will provide a total of 240 million US dollars (198.7 million euros).

The high-tech strategy 2025 in Germany is the fourth edition of the German research and innovation program. The aim is to quickly turn good ideas into innovative products and services. Most of the framework program promotes partnerships between companies, universities and research institutions in order to bring together institutional research and entrepreneurial expertise. By 2025, 3.5 percent of GDP is to be invested in research and development every year. Under the mission “Technology for People”, among other things, the “Together through Innovation” program was launched in 2020, which promotes interactive technologies for health and quality of life. With this research program, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will provide around 84 million a year until 2026 US dollars (70 million euros) are available.

In the USA, the National Robotics Initiative (NRI) was set up by the US government to support research and development in the field of robotics. The NRI-2.0 promotes collaboration between academic, industrial, non-profit and other organizations in order to achieve a better connection between basic science, engineering, technology development, deployment and use. Space robotics forms a key sector with the “Artemis” lunar program. Artemis' goal is to bring astronauts back to the lunar surface by 2024 and to develop promising resources for Mars missions in the period after 2024. Artemis is a joint space program of NASA and international partners such as ESA (consisting of 22 countries), Canada, Japan and Russia. The US government plans a budget of 35 billion US dollars for the years 2020 to 2024. The largest donor for the development of unmanned systems including robotics is still the US Department of Defense (DoD) with a planned budget of 7.3 billion US dollars in the years 2020 and 2021. According to the international statistical yearbook "World Robotics" Federation of Robotics, the robot density in the US manufacturing industry grew by 7 percent (CAGR) from 2014 to 2019 with 228 robots per 10,000 employees - 9th place worldwide. In terms of annual installations of industrial robots, the country ranks third.

Downloads 

„World Robotics R&D Programs“ can be downloaded here.

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