European robotics has unique strengths and challenges in comparison with other regions, such as North America or East Asia. However, it would be a mistake to assume that the development or use of robots, artificial intelligence, and unmanned vehicles in Europe is uniform.
In this report, Peter van der Schaft provides an overview of the current state of European robotics for RBR Insiders. According to the International Federation of Robotics, Europe is a global leader in robot production, service robots, and robot density (the number of robots per 10,000 workers).
The continent is also home to numerous research institutions, robotics companies, and recent AI initiatives. This report lists many of the major players by country. International partnerships with China, Israel, and the U.S. also enable European robotics to benefit from foreign innovation and markets.
Unmanned and autonomous marine systems, human-machine interfaces, and manipulation are some areas of technical strength. In addition to traditional automotive manufacturing, other industries that benefit from European robotics leadership include oil and gas, healthcare, and security.
European robotics challenges
At the same time, the diverse nature of national economies and priorities has made it impossible to generalize about European robotics. For instance, Germany is widely recognized as a leader in industrial automation, while AI is developing in France. Denmark has the leading collaborative robot arm maker.
Industry 4.0 observers have said that there is a need for more standards and intellectual property and privacy protection. The pending departure of the U.K. from the EU will also force renegotiation of trade and labor arrangements. Concerns about whether robots endanger or complement jobs, ethical development of AI, and competition and collaboration also vary by industry and country.
On the other hand, European robotics does have a strong booster in the form of the Horizon 2020 initiative, which currently provides funding to 17 programs. Within Horizon 2020, the SPARC program is intended to encourage research and development into robotics and AI. Venture capital investments across Europe have also increased.
What can interested parties within Europe and current and prospective trade partners learn by identifying market leaders and comparing regions? This report provides an introduction and overview, and RBR Insiders can learn more through Robotics Business Review‘s ongoing coverage of European and global robotics.