Back in the day robots rarely existed outside of the imagination and science fiction novels, Now, in the 21st century, robotics are commonplace high-speed efficient machinery cutting production times and decreasing errors on factory floors around the globe. It also offers a potentially lucrative investment.
According to the International Federation of Robotics, about two million personal robots were in use around the world in 2004, and another seven million will be installed by 2008. In South Korea the Ministry of Information and Communication hopes to put a robot in every home there by 2013. The Japanese Robot Association predicts that by 2025, the personal robot industry will be worth more than $50 billion a year worldwide, compared with about $5 billion today.
The robotic industry is recovering nicely with solid growth. 2010 almost doubled the sales in industrial robots from 2009.
There are many applications where robotics can be very useful. For example, a specialized robot from the U.S. was shipped to Japan for use during the nuclear power plant meltdown due to the levels of radiation lethal to humans. On the fun side there are robots made to flip, cook, and serve pancakes or a robotic bartender to mix and serve drinks. They can even tirelessly play rock-paper-scissors and always win.
This video shows the newer Asimo humanoid robot walking and serving a drink.
A great example of a high-speed pancake stacker.
Business Section: Investing Ideas
Looking to invest in the future of robotics? Here are some pure plays on the industry:
1. iRobot Corporation (IRBT, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): A company building robots and technology for navigation, mobility, and many consumer, government, and industrial markets. Some consumers may know this company from the Roomba robot vacuum for personal carpet cleaning.
2. Intuitive Surgical Inc. (ISRG, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): Another great robotics company in the medical field. Intuitive Surgical designs, manufactures, and markets the da Vinci Surgical System along with other products. The da Vinci Surgical System is a robotic surgical setup where a surgeon can perform an operation from anywhere in the world using robotic arms and instruments to simulate human movement.
Use the Compar-O-Matic to see changes in market cap for iRobot Corporation and Intuitive Surgical Inc. You’ll see Intuitive Surgical Inc. double their market cap over the past two years.
Written by Chris DuBois
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