The ‘Other Singularity’ – China Factory To Build Robots That Make Other Robots

Swiss engineering firm ABB announced plans on Saturday for a $150 million factory in Shanghai, China filled with robot-assembling robots, according to Reuters

The factory will be located near ABB’s China robotics campus, and is set to open at the end of 2020 if all goes well. It will produce robots for use in China, as well as for export elsewhere in Asia. China is ABB’s second largest market after the United States. 

“Shanghai has become a vital center for advanced technology leadership – for ABB and the world,” said ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer in an announcement. 

With the expansion, ABB is banking on Chinese robots sales defying concerns over trade tensions with the United States that some fear could dent demand for electronics, auto parts and other items that require automated manufacturing and robots.

China is expanding its robot workforce, as wages for human workers there rise and the country seeks to compete with lower-cost countries via greater automation. In 2017, one of every three robots sold in the world went to China, which purchased nearly 138,000 units, ABB said. –Reuters

ABB’s new factory will span 75,000 sqft, and will employ specialized software designed to allow humans and robots to work side-by-side without injuries, according to the company, which added that its YuMi robots will be deployed on several of the small parts assembly processes required to make an ABB robot. 

ABB, whose industrial robots are used, among other things, to build automobiles as well as to assemble electronic devices, will build robots for numerous industries at the Shanghai factory, a spokesman said.

It did not give a new employee count for the factory, but said it will boost robotics employment that now sits at more than 2,000 ABB workers in China. –Reuters

Meanwhile, ABB rival Kuka which was bought in 2016 by China’s Midea, has been rapidly expanding its robo-presence throughout China – building a “robot park” near Hong Kong in the city of Shunde. 

Will the robot building robot factory require security guards? 

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