Japan Focuses On Multi-Task Robots

Compiled By Deborah Austin In robotics implementation, Japan has led the way -- but with a different approach from the West, say compilers of ActivMedia Research LLC report "Mobile Robotics: The Next Revolution." While Western robotics has focused more on marketing single-function robots such as lawn mowers and vacuum cleaners, Japan has taken a more android approach of creating robotic friends. Among commercial enterprises, Honda has led with heavy investment in household robots. Mobile robotic sales will reach $17-billion-plus by 2005, up 2500% from 2000's $665 million, ActivMedia projects. Robots performing one limited function -- most easily built -- will dominate the market through 2005. Networked robots for remote/difficult environments will prove a major growth sector, combining remote-navigation technologies with those of the Internet. Industrially, robots are infiltrating construction jobs -- pipe laying, road paving, and earth moving. They're also proliferating in settings not safe for humans -- such as inspections and repairs inside pipes, and radiation-level testing. Peterborough, N.H.-based ActivMedia Research conducts Internet commerce research.

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