Taking the Robot Industry to New Heights
It has been announced by the Ministry of Knowledge and Economy (http://www.mke.go.kr/language/eng/index.jsp) that the government has initiated a promotional plan to intensively foster Korea's service robot industry by making cleaning robots and educational robots the focal point. A development plan has been designed to jack up Korea's global robot market share from the current 10 percent to as much as 20 percent by 2018.
As of now, Korea's robot industry is 2.5 years behind other developed nations in terms of technology. Therefore, the Ministry of Knowledge and Economy has ambitiously announced the service robot industry promotional plan which consists of 10 tasks to support overseas market entry, upgrade robot technologies and discover sectors with a great growth potential. The Ministry of Knowledge and Economy will pour KRW 30 billion in 2011 and handpick 10 key areas to speed up overseas market entry by Korean robot makers. The promotional plan also contains market-specific export strategies to boost robot exports, for instance, surveillance robots will be mainly developed and exported to the Middle East, robot maids for the elderly to the US and the EU, and cleaning robots to China and Southeast Asian nations.
Meanwhile, to lead global standardization efforts, development of standards for the robot convergence sector will be carried through. In addition, to raising technological competitiveness, the Best 8 Project (under which promising robot products are picked to spur up the development of convergence technologies) will be implemented. Additionally, the six highest value-added strategic parts will be chosen to focus government support on locally producing them at an earlier date. Furthermore, the Korean robot industry's competitiveness will be ramped up by pushing for joint R&D projects with advanced research institutions in the US, Japan and Germany. To solidify the foundation of the robot sector's growth, systemic efforts to nurture robot experts will be made: so-called robot-meister high schools will be designated and more robot R&D centers will be built at universities. What's more, to spread knowledge on the use of robots, robot experience centers will be run on a continuing basis and best robot contests will be held. The reason why the Korean government is aggressively pressing ahead with the promotion of the service robot industry is because the global robot market, which has thus far revolved around robots designed for manufacturing, is gradually transitioning into a service robot-led one, realizing the urgency to thrash out a government-level robot promotional strategy.
At the moment, the global robot market amounts to US $9.4 billion, of which the service robot market takes up a third. Though the share of service robots is lower than that of robots used for manufacturing purposes, the service robot market is growing 38 percent annually. The service robot market is expected to reach US$ 85.5 billion in 2018, dwarfing the market for robots designed for manufacturing.