Domestic service robots are a growing market

Financial Times reports the market for ‘service robots’ is starting to take wing. There were 1.9 million of the devices in use around the world in 2005, and demand is growing.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates has described the industry as one that “may well change the world.” Honda Motor Co. predicts that less than half a century from now, everyone who has a car will have a robot.

For housework haters, it is an enticing prospect. “We are 20 years off having an ironing robot,” said Mark Norman, chief executive of Merlin Systems Corp., a British robotics company developing artificial muscle technology.

South Korea’s government is among those leading the charge. Having identified robotics as one of its 10 key economic drivers, it is pumping nearly $50 million into research every year over 10 years.

“The rate of growth in the [service] robotics market is somewhere between 50% and 400% a year,” said Henrik Christensen, a professor at the School of Computer Science and Communication in Stockholm.

Among the many potential applications for service robots is the potential for robot servants to help look after the growing number of elderly.

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