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Robot industry alliance set up in Shanghai

By Wu Ni ( chinadaily.com.cn ) 2015-03-17

Baymax, the personal healthcare robot in Hollywood blockbuster Big Hero 6, is adored by many audiences as a sweet companion. In the future, it will not be a dream that the public could have their personal robots on healthcare or education, said scientists in a recent conference of Future Robot Industry Alliance in Jiading.

The alliance was set up by the Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology (SIMIT) of Chinese Academy of Science, the Shanghai Industrial Technology Research Institute (SITRI), together with major robot-making companies.

The alliance gathers members of a whole robot industry chain, including enterprises and research organizations on intelligent sensing and system integration, as well as restaurants and shops which intend to introduce robots to their workplace.

So far, the alliance has attracted nearly 60 members, including the Robot and Intelligent Equipment Research Institute of China Academy of Science, and China’s biggest robot maker Siasun Robot & Automation Co Ltd. More than 100 enterprises are applying for membership.

The new alliance will pay great attention to capital investment and market demand, it is enterprises-oriented and market-drive, said Peng Jun, deputy chief engineer of science and technology commission of Jiading district.

The establishment of the alliance could avoid excessive competition among members. On the other hand, it will help apply artificial intelligence and intelligent sensing technology to robot manufacturing.

Artificial intelligence and sensing technology are two key technologies that make robots "alive", according to Wu Kairu, a vice-president in SITRI.

"Like the five sense organs of human, sensors for distance, pressure, temperature, supersonic wave and many others help robots collect data, acquire information, assess the situation and carry out related movement," Wu said.

In the future, robots with multi sensors that can cooperate and interact with human beings will be widely seen in the industry of Internet of Things. For the public, owning a personal robot doctor or robot teacher can also become true, Wu said.

The municipal government keeps on encouraging factories in Shanghai to use robots so as to accelerate transformation of Shanghai’s growth model and face the challenge of an aging population. The city is ambitious to become a cluster for robot makers in China.

The demand for industrial robots on the mainland has been growing in recent years. According to the International Federation of Robotics, a total of 36,560 units of industrial robots were sold last year - up almost 60 percent from the previous year.

Sales of industrial robots are expected to rise to about 50,000 units this year. In the next three years, the federation estimates, the figure will grow by at least 25 percent on average annually, reaching approximately 100,000 units by 2017. By that time, more than 400,000 industrial robots would have been installed at factories on the mainland.

MAIL TO DISTRICT CHIEFzxi@jiading.gov.cn

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