Robot Sales Slump In 2001

By Agence France-Presse Global sales of industrial robots plunged by 21% last year mainly due to poor sales in Japan and a depressed market in the United States, a new United Nations report says. In its World Robotics 2002 survey, the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and International Federation of Robotics said sales in the European Union grew by 2.5%. But in Japan, after a booming period for robot business in the 1980s and early 1990s, sales dropped by nearly 40% in 2001 compared with a year earlier. In the United States sales dropped nearly 17%. Looking ahead to general forecasts for 2002 to 2005, sales are expected to increase by an average of 7.5% a year, with steady growth in Europe and North America and a slow recovery in Japan. The picture for Europe during 2001 varied from country to country. Sales dropped in both Germany and France, while in Britain they grew by 26% and in Spain by 22%. Developing countries such as Brazil, Mexico and China are starting to see robot investments take off "at an impressive rate," the report says. Some forms of work such as heavy lifting, repetitive tasks or hazardous workplaces will continue to be replaced by robots, the report notes. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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