MIT Report: Robot Use Highest in China

An MIT Technology Review article on industrial robotic usage around the world should be alarming to American manufacturers. China has taken the lead.

A new report by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) reveals that companies bought more than 380,000 industrial bots in 2017—a 29 percent growth over the prior year, with China as the biggest buyer and Asia as the biggest continent.

China had a massive 58 percent increase in industrial robots (robotic systems used for manufacturing) purchased year-over-year, coming in at 138,000 installed in 2017. That’s about a third of the manufacturing robots sold worldwide. South Korea, which has a higher density of robots than any other country, purchased 40,000 new bots last year.

According to IFR, China has led the world in robot investment for the past four years and is far ahead of the United States, which is falling behind in terms of robotic efficiency in manufacturing. The Chinese government plans to increase its global market share of Chinese-made robots from 31 percent in 2016 to over 50 percent by 2020, as stated in its Made in China 2025 initiative.

The U.S. installed a comparatively paltry 33,000 robots in 2017, only a  6 percent increase from 2016. Due to the loss of jobs, voters in the Midwest, which was hit hardest, may have helped elect Donald Trump as president as a result.

Robots have replaced humans in 25% of China’s ammunition factories. Also, China is building AI-based, unmanned police stations, according to