Robots are getting cheaper and smaller, and as a result, sales have grown significantly over the past year, particularly in North America, as more companies move manufacturing operations closer to U.S. markets.
North American manufacturing companies bought a total of 9,773 industrial robots, valued valued at approximately $516 million, in the first quarter of 2017. Last year, 7,406 were ordered by North American companies valued at $402 million.
That means 32 percent more robots were bought this year than at the same time in 2016 — it’s the strongest first quarter on record for robots ordered by North American companies, according to the Robotic Industries Association.
Overall, this is probably mixed news: automation overall increases productivity (good), some of this automation will mean fewer local jobs (bad), and some of these robots are automating work that was already offshored (neutral).
Source: April Glaser and Rani Molla, recode