Robotics as a Key Economic Enabler

Robots have been used primarily to provide increased of accuracy and throughput for particular, repetitive tasks, such as painting, welding, and machining, in hazardous, high volume involved implementing customized solutions with relatively specific, near term value. Although a sizeable industrial robotic industry has developed as result, the applications for such first generation robotics solutions have proven to be relatively narrow and largely restricted to static, indoor environment due to enabling technology limitations.

However, tremendous advancements in robotics technology have enabled a new generation applications in field as diverse as agile manufacturing, medicine, healthcare, logistics and other commercial and consumer market segments within the past five years,. Further, it is becoming increasingly evident that these early, next generation products are a harbinger of numerous, global, large scale, robotics technology markets likely to develop in the coming decade. Owing to the inexorable aging of our population, the emergence of such a next generation, “robotech” industry will eventually affect the lives and have enormous social, economic, and political impact on the future.

The United States left behind other countries in recognizing the importance of robotics technology. While the European Union, Japan, Korea and the rest of the world have made significant R&D investments in robotic technology. Robotech clearly represents one of the few technologies capable in the near term of building new companies and creating new jobs and in the long run of addressing an issue of critical national importance.

Over 140 individuals from companies, laboratories, and universities from across the United States joined forces to establish a national robotech initiative that identifies the future impact of robotics technology on the social, economic, and security need of the nations, outlines the various scientific and technological challenges, and documents a technological roadmap to address those challenges. This effort was sponsored by the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) and led by the 12 world class researchers from the leading institutions of robotics academic.

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