Orange Intelligenz: The State of the Union for Robotics

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On this episode of Orange Intelligenz, a KUKA Robotics podcast, KUKA Robotics Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, North America Simon Whitton joined host Tyler Kern to deliver the State of the Robotics Union.

Whitton, who boasts over 35 years of experience in the robotics industry, is uniquely positioned to talk about the industry on a global scale thanks to extensive work experience in China and Japan, which lent him a different perspective on the acceptance and adoption of robotics and how the Asian region compares to North America and the United States.

Perhaps the biggest trend in the robotics industry at the moment, at least in the U.S., is that, while the country is exhibiting growth in robot adoption and sales, it still lags behind the levels of adoption and the heights the industry has reached in the Asian market despite its lengthy history with industrial robots.

“In general, I’d say that North America has been slower to adopt in terms of the growth pattern… by contrast, though, in countries in Asia is, whilst they may have been a bit later to come to robotics, the adoption rate is much higher in that region,” Whitton said.

While the recent COVID-19 pandemic has thrown things slightly off kilter, research prior to the outbreak suggested that U.S. unemployment rates remained low while robotic adoption rates rose.

In particular, that growth and predicted climb is a result of specific drivers in the region, such as an aging population and increasing revenue demands.

“Generally, it’s pretty good. As we look forward, the socioeconomic drivers, plus the technological drivers that power the growth in robotics, all are good,” Whitton said. “… We need machines to go to work and create business for us, so the drivers are all in place.”

To keep those adoption rates rising, particularly after the Coronavirus pandemic fades and business returns to relatively normal levels, Whitton said that the technology and misconceptions surrounding robotics need additional clearing up to ensure the growth trends exhibited in North America continue.

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