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Nation's robotics industry makes big strides

By FAN FEIFEI | | Updated: 2023-08-17 23:34
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Visitors check out a tea making robot on the opening day of the World Robot Conference in the Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area on Wednesday. The conference runs through Tuesday. WANG JING / CHINA DAILY

China is willing to work with the international community to accelerate the application of robotics in a wider range of fields, create an open and inclusive development environment, and encourage foreign robot companies to invest and grow their businesses in China, the country's top industry regulator said on Thursday.

Highlighting the increasingly vital role of robots in technological innovation and intelligent manufacturing, Xin Guobin, vice-minister of industry and information technology, urged more efforts to expand international cooperation in the robotics industry and establish regulations and standards to better regulate the development and application of the emerging technology.

Xin made the remarks at the main forum of the ongoing 2023 World Robot Conference, which opened on Wednesday in Beijing. The event runs through Tuesday.

China's robotics industry has made great strides, with its revenue surpassing 170 billion yuan ($23.3 billion) last year, maintaining double-digit growth, Xin said, adding that the nation's sales of industrial robots accounted for more than half of the world's total in 2022, ranking first across the globe for 10 consecutive years.

Data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology showed that China's output of industrial robots reached 222,000 units in the first half of the year, up 5.4 percent year-on-year. Output of the country's services robots jumped 9.62 percent year-on-year to 3.53 million units between January and June.

Industrial robot installations in China took the top spot globally in 2022, taking up more than 50 percent of the global market share, according to the ministry. In addition, the total disclosed financing amount in China's robotics industry amounted to over 30 billion yuan last year.

China will ratchet up efforts to bolster technological breakthroughs and innovations in key components of robotics, cultivate world-class robotics industrial clusters and safeguard the stability of global robotics industrial and supply chains, Xin said.

He added that robot density in the manufacturing industry was 392 robots per 10,000 employees, and industrial robots have already been adopted in 65 industries and 206 sub-industries, with their application in fields such as new energy, automobile, lithium battery, photovoltaic and other emerging industries expanding rapidly.

"China has played a significant role in the development of scientific and technological innovation and engineering on a global scale, and has made remarkable achievements in robot development," said Jose Vieira, president of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations.

He said the application of robot technology can boost efficiency, reduce costs and improve product quality.

"It is necessary to achieve a balance between innovation and industrial development, and work together to promote robotics development in a more inclusive and sustainable way," he added.

China is by far the fastest-growing robot market in the world, with the highest number of annual installations. Since 2016 it has had the largest operational stock of robots each year, according to the International Federation of Robotics, a professional, nonprofit organization based in Germany.

Chen Ying, vice-chairman and secretary-general of the Chinese Institute of Electronics, said robots have been used as one of the important indicators to gauge a country's scientific and technological innovation and high-end manufacturing level.

"China has become a critical driving force for bolstering the development of the global robotics industry," Chen said, while calling for more efforts to speed up the in-depth integration of robotics with cutting-edge technologies, including artificial intelligence, biotechnology, new materials and brain-computer interface.

Zhang Jin, president of Siasun Robot & Automation Co, one of China's largest robotics firms, said the company will continue to increase investment in research and development, enhance indigenous innovation capabilities and expand its presence in the automobile manufacturing, semiconductor and new energy sectors.

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