February 15, 2015      

Round four of the RBR50

Annually, hundreds of thousands of visitors pour over the RBR50 interactive list, making those pages by far the most popular, clicked over and most closely followed at Robotics Business Review.

We were thrilled, honored and proud at this, our fourth RBR50 election campaign, to hang out a banner that read: Please Vote!

And once again, the votes are in and counted, and remarkable things have happened during its course.

Here at the inflection point: 2015

February is always an exciting time around here at Robotics Business Review; we get to see the arrivals and departures to the RBR50 list as well as which companies stayed the course with our global electorate.

As with the robotics community itself, there’s always brisk change as the technology ever innovates upon itself, lifting the industry ever upward, and penetrating into ever more applications as it makes itself ever more vital and permanent to industry, commerce and society.

It’s easy to tell that robotics is a new technology in the heat of building new industries merely by watching all the action that’s taking place in the comings and goings on the RBR50 list. These days more than ever.

This is our fourth year watching, sometimes incredulously, as titans fall and are pushed aside by brilliant disruptors or titans suddenly re-imagine themselves, retool and vault back aboard; and everything in between.

There’s near unanimous consensus from all quarters that robotics has reached its inflection point: that point of emergence where the technology finally meets up with long-awaited expectations, transits the meridian of possibility, begins to accelerate, and then blossoms.

That blossoming has been quite stunning to witness.

Counting inflections

For 2015, eighteen newbies and returnees made their arrival, representing a 36 percent turnover of the RBR50 list from 2014.

We were cheered as Clearpath Robotics and Komatsu were recognized for their work in 2013 and now, after a year’s absence, were returned to the RBR50 list for 2015.

We were pleasantly taken aback at the completely unexpected but well-deserved arrival of gomtec, Teun, Open Bionics, and Future Robot.

For two years now we’ve been watching SynTouch come close but no cigar; however, this year the merit of their technology finally elevated them.

Flying under the radar, but not so low that their unique technologies and inspiring applications would go unnoticed, were Festo and Kawada.

Brain Corporation with its amazing learning BrainOS came out of nowhere to get the nod to join the list.

We were happy to see both Otto Bock and Hocoma nailing down places on behalf of healthcare robotics.

Screeching onto the RBR50 in a hail of “driverlessness” was first-timer Nissan–and a first-ever for automakers. Nissan did a complete end-around on the likes of Mercedes, Toyota, GM and Ford.

Here at RBR, we felt sure Mercedes, because of its stellar work on both self-driving autos and trucks, was a shoo-in. But no; awesome upset there!

All in all, the RBR50 was enriched by these new and returning members.

Excellence recognized on a global scale: RBR50

The RBR50 for 2015 represents fifty organizations across three continents and eleven countries: Canada (3), Denmark (1), France (1), Germany (8), Japan (9), Korea (1), Netherlands (1), Switzerland (3), Taiwan (1), United Kingdom (3), and USA (19).

Israel, Spain, Italy and Sweden just missed by a hair. Perennial powerhouse in field robotics, Australia, had none.

China last year had one, this year its Ecovacs Robotics fell off the list.

The coming years will undoubtedly see more Asian companies make the RBR50 list, especially Korea and China, where there are powerhouses of robotics and robotics R&D either now existing or imminent.