Robots May Fill Japan’s Population Void

Robots may take over jobs that the Japanese youth don’t want to do, according to research from Frost & Sullivan.

The shrinking population growth rate in Japan is fueling the growth of the country’s robotics industry. The decline in the workforce has generated an opening in the labor force that robots may fill, according to new research from Frost & Sullivan.

The Japanese robotics market had revenues of $4.60 billion in 2005 and is expected to reach $19 billion in 2012, the research showed.

“With the population diminishing at a rate of 0.09 percent annually and the number of elderly people increasing, Japan’s workforce is gradually declining,” said Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Nanditha Krishna. “Growing labor and medical costs, the aversion of Japanese youths to uninteresting and monotonous jobs, and ongoing product quality enhancements create a strong need for robots in diverse application areas.”

According to the study, robots are most widely used in manufacturing for repetitive or dangerous jobs and the automotive industry uses robots for assembly. The uses for robots may expand soon to include painting and clean room applications, as well as for pharmaceuticals production and packaging, consumer electronics assembly, machine tooling and food packaging.

Although Japan has traditionally used robots for industrial purposes, there is a shift towards service and personal robots, which some feel is the future of the industry. The service robots would be used in medicine, nuclear power, aerospace and entertainment, or they could be used for unmanned marine exploration, the research said.

For the growing elderly population, manufacturers are contemplating the possibility of robots for domestic settings, like those that would replace a vacuum cleaner. Using robots as security guards in offices or schools is another prospect for the industry, the study notes.

The report cites a lack of clarity in vision and objectives, as well as inadequate software skills as obstacles that the industry needs to overcome.

“Current development projects lack a proper combination of cost, function and technology, as well as a clear vision for practical applications,” adds Krishna. “While Japan is and always has been a global technological leader, there is little doubt that it needs to pay greater attention to software development with regard to the robotics market.”

To view the complete report, click here.