Europe does not want to be an irrelevant player in the robotics industry. The European Commission(EC) and 180 companies and research organizations (under the influence of euRobotics, an association of the robotics industry) yesterday launched a civilian program of research and innovation that Brussels scored the highest on the planet. The plan shall consist of 700 million European budget, plus a contribution of 2,100 million from the private sector and will feature more than 12,000 researchers directly involved.

The initiative is called Sparc and cover all sectors: agriculture, health, transport, manufacturing, civil security and households.“We want to strengthen Europe’s position in the global robot market that moves 60,000 million euros a year by 2020,” they said in a note.

The EC said that this program is expected to generate more than 240,000 jobs in Europe, and 75,000 of them will require high qualification. The plan aims to increase 42%  share of the Old Continent in this industry (a boost of 4,000 million euros per year) and generate an increase in European GDP of 80,000 billion euros, according to the Department of Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Agenda Digital.

“Europe needs to be a producer and not just a consumer of robotic” defended Kroes. “The robot does more than replacing people because robots often do things that humans can not or will not do and this enhances everything from our quality of life to our security.”

According to Kroes, integrating robotics in European industry “will help create and save jobs in Europe”, because it would move many operations to cheaper countries. Kroes acknowledged that the impact of robotics in the labor market raises concerns of the public. “70% of Europeans believe that robots take jobs,” he said. But the Commissioner is satisfied that it can demonstrate the benefits of robotics, according to their data, it generates 3.6 jobs for each robot. “And in the next eight years,” he added, “the robots will create 2.5 million direct and indirect jobs.”

Kroes matches Oussama Khatib, director of the Robotics Research Group at Stanford University. In a recent interview with CincoDías, this expert said he was convinced that robots will curb offshoring companies. “Companies have gone for cheap labor to developing countries and now with this technology can develop tasks where the industry is. Instead of relocating, going to other countries, we can now create efficient factories within the country, “he said.

Meanwhile, Bernd Liepert, euRobotics president, noted that Sparc ensure the competitiveness of European robotic industries. “Automated robot-based solutions are essential to overcome the significant social challenges of today, the demographic shift from mobility to sustainable production.”

Since the EC and euRobotics use robotics in different ways, that “go beyond factories” are defended. This highlights its role to assist patients in hospitals, their ability to inspect dangerous nuclear power plants or to make certain tedious tasks in agriculture. Another great potential of this industry is on the side of unmanned vehicles (drones), that is very trendy right now.

The European initiative comes in an environment of increasing interest in the use of robots in various fields, even consumption. Just remember the announcement of Amazon and their interest in using drones to distribute future orders or strong landing Google in the robotics industry. The search giant bought robotics company Boston Dynamics Engineering in December 2013, one of the most iconic companies in the industry and one of the most active research laboratories for the Department of Defense US. And it was his eighth buying of robotics companies.

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