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Technology

Rise of the robots

A recent study by Redwood Software and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) has focused on the impact of robotics automation on economic development across OECD countries, including the UK and the US.

How does UK robotics investment compare to the other countries?

The report found that the UK has a much smaller robotics investment/GDP share in comparison to Japan, Germany and the US. Expressed in 2015 PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) terms, robotics investment in the US was $86billion in 2015, approximately 62 times that of the UK, recovering strongly from less than $30billion during the recession in 2009.

Which countries have the highest robot density rates?

UK robotics density is low relative to other countries; the UK rate was only 10 robot units for every million hours worked in 2015, compared with 131 in the US, 167 in Japan and 133 in Germany in the same year.

What impact are robots having on global GDP?

While robotics remains a relatively small part of global economies, it has made a significant contribution to worldwide GDP growth – as much as 10 per cent of total growth over the last 22 years. The study showed that investment in robotics has a greater positive impact on the economy than more established sectors such as information technology, construction and real estate – even though all these sectors benefit from economies of scale that robotics cannot match.

Will robots take our jobs?

Evidence has showed robotic automation being a positive for employment. David Whitaker, managing economist at the Cebr, said: “There is clear evidence that points towards robotic automation in many cases being a complement for human labour, rather than a direct substitute. As more mundane tasks are automated, human effort becomes more valuable as it is focused on higher-level tasks, creativity, know-how and thinking.”

How will Brexit impact the UK robotics industry?

Brexit could have a further detrimental impact on the UK’s rate of robotics density and presents renewed challenges in setting the UK up to succeed in this area moving forward. Given the tough political climate, there are certainly interesting times ahead for the robotics market in the UK,” said David Whitaker, Managing Economist at Cebr. “Growth and modernisation in the automotive industry has been a key driver of UK robotics growth in recent years. As a result, continued growth in the UK robotics market will depend heavily on whether planned investments in this industry do indeed progress following Brexit, as this will stipulate many robot unit purchasing decisions.”