A silent war over the hegemony of a fast-growing robot market is expanding across the globe. Advanced economies such as the United States and Japan, which have been focusing on developing courier robots to address soaring labor costs, are now on the verge of putting them in action for actual use.
According to IDC, a market surveyor, the size of the global robot market is expected to make a 20-percent growth every year, jumping from 91.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 to 188 billion dollars in 2020.
Amazon, the world’s biggest ecommerce operator, announced Wednesday that it will operate six “Amazon Scouts,” the company’s autonomous delivery bots, in Snohomish County, Washington State, during the days. The size of an icebox, the Amazon Scout is autonomous robot with six wheels on the body, which is powered by electricity like electric vehicles.
Amazon explained that the devices can safely and efficiently navigate around pets and pedestrians. During the pilot phase, however, the bots will be accompanied by humans to make sure that deliveries are fully verified.
Sony, one of the biggest Japanese electronics makers, announced Wednesday that it will start a care service in mid-February through its robotic pet “Aibo.” The camera installed on the tip of the pet’s nose and their AI enable a remote monitoring to make sure that the care receivers are doing well at home. A security service is also being prepared in collaboration with private security firms. The monthly fee for the care service is 1,480 yen, and the Aibo device is priced at 198,000 yen, the same as before.
The Japanese government is making a broad-based support to its robot industry. The revised New Growth Strategy, which was announced in June 2014, declared a new industrial revolution that is led by robots. Japan is paying a keen attention to care robots in a bid to address its fast-aging demographics. According to the “Framework Policy on Aging Society,” the country is planning to expand the scale of care bot market from 2.4 billion yen in 2015 to 50 billion in 2020.