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Japan's robot industry forecasts strong growth

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Oct 11, 2007
Japan's robotics industry is expected to show robust growth and remain the world leader thanks to growing exports to emerging economies, an industry group said Thursday.

While Japan has become famous for its cutting-edge humanoid robots, the industry's sales are almost all for industrial robots, particularly those that help manufacture cars, electronics and other products.

Japan in the calendar year 2007 is set to produce a record 760 billion yen (6.5 billion dollars) worth of robotics, a rise of 4.1 percent from the previous year, the Japan Robot Association said.

The industry is expected to post growth of another 3.9 percent next year, with production seen hitting one trillion yen by 2010.

The growth will be sustained by growing production of flat panel and liquid crystal display televisions, whose sales are rising as competition brings down prices for consumers, the robot association's chairman Kensuke Imura said.

The association, which groups 138 companies, said that exports of Japanese robotics will continue to expand, boosted by firm demand from emerging markets in Asia and Latin America.

"Investment in China is increasing due to growing demand for personal computers, cell phones, digital electronic products and flat screen televisions," Imura said.

The association said that Japan would remain the world leader in robotics "for some time," brushing aside the growing research and development from South Korea, China and India.

"Unlike foreign firms that buy up technology and leave it to a second party to manufacture, Japanese firms produce products from the bottom-up, leading to high-quality products," said the group's executive director Tokuo Iikura.

Chairman Imura added: "I don't think there's any other population in the world that enjoys creating products as much as the Japanese do."

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Robots With Legs
Pittsburgh PA (SPX) Oct 09, 2007
David Wettergreen is an associate research professor at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute. Wettergreen works in the institute's Field Robotics Center, designing and testing robots for deployment under harsh, inhospitable conditions. Many of the projects he has worked on were funded by NASA, as part of its process of developing robotic spacecraft to explore nearby worlds. In this first part of a four-part interview, conducted by Astrobiology Magazine's field research editor, Henry Bortman, Wettergreen discusses his early work with walking robots.

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