Changsha to foster industrial robots

By Zhang Qiong (
Updated: 2014-11-06

The 2014 Changsha Science and Technology Academic Annual Meeting was opened on Nov 4 in Changsha, Hunan province. The meeting was hosted by the Changsha Association of Science and Technology and undertaken by Changsha University.

Ma Hongxu, a robotics expert and professor at the National University of Defense Technology, made a special report on “industrial robots and their development and future".

"Industrial robots have become one of the key strategic emerging industries in Changsha. According to its Three-Year-Plan for the Robotics Industry, Changsha will seek to achieve 10 billion yuan ($1.64 billion) of industrial robot production capacity by the end of 2017. And the industry will grow rapidly in the next 10 years," Ma said.

He believed that China is ushering in a golden era for industrial robot development and related colleges and universities as well as enterprises have high expectations.

In the past few years, China has seen its robotic applications grow at an annual rate of over 40 percent.

Changsha will forge ahead with the production, modelling, application and promotion as well as integrated production, research and application of industrial robots. Alongside that, it will work to attract system integration businesses and bulk manufacturers with market demand, to establish robotic industrial clusters.

The municipal government intends to derive 30 million yuan annually from its industrial and technological capital to support industrial robot promotions and applications in the following three years.

It's expected that by the end of 2017, the production volume of Changsha's industrial robots will top 10 billion yuan, and robots will cover the major industries with 100 robots for every 10,000 workers.

Ma said that compared with developed countries, industrial robots in China are sparsely used with only 21 robots for every 10,000 workers – a far cry from the global average of 55 – while in South Korea and Japan, there are more than 300 robots for every 10,000 workers.

The IFR (International Federation of Robotics) predicts that China will become the largest world market of industrial robots in which 35,000 robots are expected to be installed by 2015, a 17-percent share of the global sales of industrial robots.

Changsha plans to build a robotics research center with joint efforts from colleges and universities, research institutions, key enterprises and related parks, to drive the robotics industry.

Changsha has recently unveiled rules that encourage enterprises, colleges and universities, and research institutions to improve their independent innovation capacity.

Ma said the newly outlined preferential policies and measures speak volumes about the government's concern for the robotics industry.

"As a strong driver for the new industrial revolution, the progress of robotics will bring about a dramatic change in mankind's production and life styles. Meanwhile, industrial robotics is a powerful growth pole for an innovative economy," he said.

Ma added that much remains to be done in the core technology of China's industrial robots, especially when it comes to the workmanship and complete set of equipment, technologies of key parts such as reducers of which there is a great shortage.

Recently, Changsha has seen some notable progress in its robotic space, such as the China Education Robot Contest on Nov 1 and 2, the founding of Changsha Robot Technology Innovation Alliance on Oct 24, and the contract signing with KUKA, one of the largest global robotics businesses based in Germany during the Hunan (Changsha) business promotion campaign held in Shenzhen in mid-October.

Robots are becoming a new symbol for Changsha which is now home to many robotic industries. Yuhua district, which features the only robotics industry demonstration zone designated by the municipal government, plans to make an area of 1000 mu (66.67 hectares) for robot development. The district will spare the first three years' rents and reduce to half the fourth and fifth year’s rent for robotics companies that settle in the park.

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