China’s robotics industry is enjoying rapid development driven by incentive policies and strong market demand. The country’s spending on robotics hit $59.4 billion in 2020, and its robot market accounted for more than 30 percent of the global robot market, according to a report issued by global market intelligence firm International Data Corporation.
Service robots have been introduced to provide no-contact services in hospitals, restaurants, airports and other scenarios in China since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, boosting the development of the country’s robotics industry.
At the beginning of the epidemic, Chinese cloud-based robot maker CloudMinds donated robots to hospitals in Wuhan and Shanghai to guide patients, deliver medicine to them, disinfect quarantined areas, and measure body temperature, effectively reducing cross-infection.
Ge Qi, vice president of CloudMinds, said service robots are expected to serve as a tailwind for China’s robotics industry, as the aging population and rising labor costs will boost the development of the country’s service robot market.
Meanwhile, the industrial robot sector is also seeing excellent growth opportunities in China. In April 2020, SMC Corporation, a leading pneumatics company dedicated to factory automation and an industrial robot maker, established its China headquarters in the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Area, due to the area’s first-class business and industrial development environment.
Despite the epidemic, SMC’s sales revenue of industrial robots in China grew exponentially last year, accounting for 20 percent of the company’s total revenue, according to Ma Qinghai, general manager of SMC Investment Management China Co., Ltd.
SMC’s success is underpinned by China’s strong domestic demand for industrial robots. It is estimated that China has 65 industrial robots per 10,000 people, which is lower than the global average, illustrating the sector’s potential for growth.
China has developed all the industrial categories, which means promising prospects for industrial robots, while the accelerated development of new energy vehicles and 5G smartphones will continue to prop up recovery of market demand for industrial robots, Ma explained.
In May, Shanghai-based industrial robot and collaborative robot maker Rokae raised more than 300 million yuan (about $46 million) in its series C funding round, also demonstrating the vitality of the industrial robot sector.
Rokae’s products have been used in industries including precision machining, medical treatment, scientific research, auto parts assembly, computers, communication and consumer electronics, said the company’s chief financial officer Tang Shengtian.
Robots are changing the production process in various industries and transforming the traditional manufacturing industry, Tang added.
The use of robots has also expanded from the manufacturing and service sectors to many other areas.
Beijing-based underwater robot manufacturer Boyagongdao has produced 400-kilogram underwater robots that can be used in underwater monitoring and search and rescue work, according to Li Qiao, deputy general manager of the company.
The company has provided underwater unmanned operating platforms for China National Offshore Oil Corporation, the country’s largest offshore oil and gas producer, and offered underwater robots to China Gezhouba Group Corporation’s hydropower stations to carry out dam maintenance, Li added.
However, China’s robotics industry also faces challenges in terms of technological innovation, training of high-end talents and other aspects, which should be addressed through the joint efforts of the entire industry chain.