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Press Releases
Voice-Based Assistant Robots Made Up Nearly 50% of Service Robot Sales Worldwide in 2016 Owing to Advances in AI, Says TrendForce


Telecommunications , Consumer Electronics

Rapid progress in the development artificial intelligence (AI) has allowed humans to communicate with robots using natural languages TrendForce’s breakdown of global sales of service robots for 2016 reveals that voice-based assistant robots accounted for the majority share of the total sales at nearly 50% Robot vacuum cleaners made up the second-largest share of total service robot sales at nearly 40% This finding and other data can be found in TrendForce’s latest report on the robotics industry “Voiced-based robot assistants have been on the market for many years, but sales have not really taken off until recently, when they include new functions such as remote operation of connected appliances and Internet searches,” said Harrison Po, senior manager of TrendForce’s photonic and innovative technologies research “Due to the successes of several assistant robots, many large IT companies and technology startups have decided to enter the market with their own products” For example, Amazon has become a major vendor in the service robot market with its Echo speaker, which arrived on the market in 2014 Echo achieved a sales volume of around 52 million units for the entire 2016 Several global brand companies across different industries have entered the service robot market Well-known examples are Honda’s ASIMO, Softbank’s Peppers and Amazon’s Echo Sharp, Hitachi, Toyota and LG Electronics are also developing voice-based assistant robots Machine learning technology will make robots more personalized for consumers A closer look at the development of key technologies behind voice-based assistant robots finds that Amazon not only benefits from strong sales of Echo speakers but also from the adoption of Alexa by other brands selling similar hardware LG Electronics’ Hub Robot, Ubtech’s Lynx and Lenovo’s Smart Assistant, for instance, are all running on Alexa On the other hand, even more companies have chosen to build their voice recognition technology for their robots or work with startups such as Fuetrek, which specializes in speech recognition and UI solutions Po added: “Going forward, voice-based assistant robots not only have to continually improve their voice recognition capability, they also have to integrate with more powerful machine learning technologies With better AI, these robot assistants will be able to respond appropriately according to individual users’ emotions, habits and expectations In a sense, they will become more personalized in the future” For example, Toyota’s Kiro Mini, a robot that is designed to serve as a companion to the driver and passengers in a vehicle, has a conversation function consists of a voice recognition solution developed by Fuetrek and an in-house conversation engine This conversation engine, which is design to freely interact with users without preset questions, can create responses cater to specific needs or interests 

Press Releases
Chinese Government’s 13th Five-Year Plan Will Drive High-Speed Growth in the Country’s Robotics Industry in Next Five Years, Says TrendForce



China will continue to bolster the development of a domestic robotics industry, according to a new robotics technology roadmap that was recently released by the Chinese government for the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016~2020) China aims to have three to five internationally competitive domestic robotics companies by 2020 By that time, the country is also expected to achieve a robot density of at least 100 industrial robots installed per 10,000 employees, with the high-end manufacturing sector having a robot penetration rate of 45% Harrison Po, senior manager of TrendForce’s photonics and innovative technologies research, said that China is losing demographic dividends and struggling to upgrade its industries The Chinese government therefore regards robotics as a future growth driver of the country’s overall economy Also, building a domestic robotics industry presents an opportunity for China to become one of the technologically-advanced manufacturing countries Spurred by a series of government initiatives, there are currently more than 500 robotics-related companies registered in China Additionally, more than 40 companies listed in the China Concept Stocks are in the robotics industry Po foresees growing domestic demand for industrial and service robots in the next 10 years as the country faces rising wages and aging population To achieve its development goals, the Chinese robotics industry will have to increase its self-sufficiency in the production of key components and find application markets for service robots The Chinese market for industrial robots has become the largest in the world, but it is still under dominance of foreign robot makers While there are domestic companies that assemble robots, but they lack in-house ability to produce advanced precision components such as reduction gears, servomotors, actuators and controllers Hence, developing key technologies and component supply chains will be the initial steps that the Chinese robotics industry must take in order to become competitive  On the other hand, China will be focusing on service robot market during the next five years, especially robots for advanced service applications (eg fire-fighting/rescue robots, surgery robots, smart public service robots and smart nursing robots) Again, these robots are to deal with the country’s rising labor costs and rapidly aging population While China will continue to develop industrial robots, the country will also aggressively expand the scope of applications for service robots Po expects that the demand for service robots in China will outstrip the demand for industrial robots Midea, a major Chinese home appliance maker, has recently sought to expand its stake in KUKA, a German industrial robot maker, to at least 30% Midea’s motivation behind this deal is to increase automation in its production lines and improve logistics efficiency Po added that if Midea succeeds in strengthening its ties with KUKA, it will have better capabilities in integrating industrial robots and in developing related system solutions Midea now has a chance to become a model in high-end manufacturing within its home country

Press Releases
TrendForce Expects Further Growth in Worldwide Robot Market Next Year as Chinese Demand Remains Strong


Consumer Electronics , Telecommunications

The latest analysis from global research firm TrendForce reveals that the global demand growth for industrial robots continues to accelerate on account of workforce shortages and loss of demographic dividends Harrison Po, senior manager of TrendForce’s photonics and innovative technologies research, said that China in recent years has been energetically pushing forward with the transformation of its economy, and sales of industrial robots in the country has been growing rapidly in response to the rising demand for automation Based on TrendForce’s projection, the industrial robot demand in China is expected to reach 95,000 units in 2016 The following are some of the major trends that will be developing in the worldwide robotics market in 2016: Policies of major industrialized nations will drive the market growth for industrial and service robots Development of robotics industry is now included as an integral part of industrialized nations’ domestic development initiatives, such as Japan’s “New Strategy for Robots,” the United States’ “Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships” and China’s 13th Five-Year Plan and “Made in China 2025” Taken together, these policies sustain the growth in the industrial robot market as well as greatly accelerating the market expansion of specialized service robots and personal service/domestic robots  Automotive industry will remain as a major employer of industrial robots “Currently, the automotive industry is still the largest employer of industrial robots,” said Po “In 2014, the automotive industries of the US, Japan, Germany and South Korea all had a robot density that exceeded 1,000 robot units per 10,000 human workers In the same year, the Chinese automotive industry had a robot density of 305 robots per 10,000 workers Since the US, Japan, Germany and South Korea are all major car-producing countries, their demand for industrial robots will continue to be driven by their automotive industries” Dual-arm collaborative robots will be a new highlight in the industrial robot market Po also pointed that large assembly companies along with small and medium-size businesses are being heavily weighed down by rising labor costs Additionally, labor pool is rapidly contracting in countries facing serious aging population problem The development of dual-arm collaborative robots is thus seen as a promising solution that could simultaneously cut labor costs, improve production efficiency and fill the workforce shortage Service robot market will soon witness strong growth momentum Presently, domestic robots (ie robotic vacuum cleaner), entertainment robots and nursing robots are supporting the service robot market Po noted that advances in artificial intelligence have given service robots the abilities to communicate and interact with people Robots that are designed to be their users’ life companions will therefore become a new and vibrant addition to the market Also, a growing number of countries are seeing their agricultural sectors being impacted by aging labor population The demand for agricultural robots is expected to take off as this problem becomes more severe in the near future

Press Releases
TrendForce Reports Foxconn Is Raising Share of Automation Involvement in Pepper Robot Assembly Line to Meet Growing Demand


Telecommunications , Consumer Electronics

Pepper, a humanoid intelligent robot developed by Japanese telecom giant Softbank, has been an incredible success in its home country The first batch of 1,000 Pepper units that was released to the Japanese consumer market earlier this June was sold out under a minute, as with later waves of limited pre-orders These impressive results show that humanoid intelligent robots have successfully entered the general Japanese consumer market The latest analysis from Topology Research Institute (TRI), a division of TrendForce, estimates that the combined rental and sales volume of Pepper will reach 27,000 units by 2018, with almost 90% of the customer base made up of general consumers “Both the market acceptance and demand for Pepper-like intelligence service robots (including companion robots, nursing robots and etc) are rising among Japanese families,” said Harrison Po, photonics and innovative technologies analyst at TrendForce “Likewise, demand from enterprises, retail services and financial institutions for humanoid intelligent robots that can smoothly communicate and interact with people is also growing in Japan” Po added that Softbank has conducted an aggressive marketing campaign that involves deploying Pepper robots at its stores and offer affordable prices and monthly fees (for Cloud services) Besides raising Pepper’s popularity and acceptance among Japanese consumers, the campaign has also resulted in trial purchases by enterprises in different sectors The fourth round of pre-orders for Pepper is scheduled at the end of this September, and Softbank has further announced that an enterprise version of the robot will be available for pre-ordering in October Softbank aims to expand Pepper’s market demand by introducing it to the business application market The number of robots sold and rented keeps rising along with those deployed in Softbank’s shops Foxconn, the contract manufacturer in charge of assembling Pepper, is now under immense pressure to meet the surge of demand Foxconn’s Pepper assembly plant is located at Yantai, a city in Shandong province China The plant’s output rate was initially five units per hour, and further automation of assembly line has raised the output rate to the current 10 units per hour In addition to plans for expanding assembly lines, Foxconn is going to raise the assembly staff at the Yantai plant from 700 to 1,000 This will increase the hourly output rate to 15 units

Press Releases
Demands for Smart Robots to Soar as Global Labor Pool Shrinks, According to TrendForce


Telecommunications , Consumer Electronics

The soaring manufacturing costs in China are driving the country’s demands for industrial robots Presently, manufacturing costs in China are not only higher than Southeast Asia, South Asia and Eastern Europe, but they are also catching up to the United States’ as well Among the regions in China, Pearl River Delta and Yangtze River Delta have the highest manufacturing costs Correspondingly, the country’s market demands for industrial robots have grown significantly  “The Chinese robotics sector is behind in R&D capabilities and expertise,” said Harrison Po, consultant for Topology Research Institute (TRI), a division of TrendForce “However, dedicated domestic suppliers have emerged and the country continues to import industrial robots from major foreign manufacturers in order to keep the rising labor costs in check”  Robotics is one of the ten key industries chosen for state-sponsored development under the policy plan Made in China 2025 Therefore, smart robots will be instrumental in the transformation of China’s manufacturing sector in the next 10 years  Shrinking workforce and rising labor costs have lifted the global demands for robots for manufacturing and service applications Across the world, numerous industrial powers are now undertaking robotics-related initiatives, such as Germany’s Industry 40, Japan’s New Strategy for Robots and United States’ Advanced Manufacturing Partnership These programs, along with Made in China 2025, show these countries have made the development of smart robots a vital mission within their respective economic policies  Germany’s Industry 40, for example, aims to keep manufacturing in Germany by encouraging fabrication plants to incorporate robots of different applications as well as other technologies A small group of senior technicians can oversee the operation of a precision manufacturing fab that employs the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and cloud computing The improved flexibility and efficiency under Industry 40 would slash costs, preserve industries and ensure steady economic growth  Aside from manufacturing, a number of IT powerhouses and tech startups are also involved in the building of intelligent service robots The rapid advances in artificial intelligence and cloud computing benefit the development of assistive robots that can perform simple interactions with humans The Japanese automobile giant Honda, for instance, has already launched the bipedal humanoid robot known as ASIMO Other recent, well-publicized humanoid robots in Japan include Softbank’s Pepper, a small service robot that can read human emotions; and Toshiba’s ChihiraAico, a life-like robot currently working as a receptionist at the Mitsukoshi Nihombashi department store in Tokyo The Japanese government furthermore is actively promoting the adoption of nursing care robots as a way to address the shortage of caregivers in the country  According to Po, the robotics industry will continue to develop and sell smart robots that feature the Internet of things and cloud computing Industry participants will include both major robot manufacturers and startups TrendForce projects the scale of the smart robot market, encompassing both manufacturing and service sectors, will grow at a CAGR of 20% over the period of 2015~2020 

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