In August 2012, the IFR community met for the first time in Taipei to attend the 43rd International Symposium on Robotics, ISR 2012, and to take part in the robot show "TIROS". I was very impressed with the opening ceremony attended by the Vice President of Taiwan, Mr. Den-Yih Wu. This proves the keen interest of the Taiwanese government in the robotics industry. The importance of robots as key components for automation is fully recognized. The trend toward automation is gaining more and more importance in the South/East Asian countries. Rising wages and increasing demand for high-quality products are not only challenges for some countries and regions - they are rather global issues.
Almost 170,000 industrial robots were installed in 2011. The annual sales will reach more than 200,000 robots in 2015! These are the estimates published in World Robotics 2012. Despite economic risks, I am convinced that growth will still continue. Considering the low robot density in many growing markets and the global need to modernize and to automate, there are millions of robots expected to be installed in the coming years. However, developing more easy to use and easy to integrate robots for general industry still remains the main challenge for robot suppliers.
In addition, there is a growing importance and recognition of service robots. For example, recently in Japan a rescue robot reported the status of the disaster zone in detail where it was impossible for people to enter. People were thrilled to have this possibility provided only by using robots. And being confronted with an aging society, the completion of a truly useful nursing robot in the near future is more than welcome.
Dr. Shinsuke Sakakibara