It is not too late for Britain to establish itself as a manufacturer of robotics and automation equipment in a market dominated by overseas suppliers of conventional robots.
Food and medicine are the two niche sectors identified in a report published this week by the British Robot Association.
Mike Wilson, the association’s president, called for Government money to support awareness, training and demonstrator programmes to coordinate the interests of a fragmented industry made up of many small suppliers, researchers, Government departments and users.
Michael O’Shea, divisional director of the Department of Trade and Industry’s automotive, metals and materials group, said the Government would be unlikely to provide risk funding, but he welcomed the association’s suggestion of a new centre with power to push through the report’s recommendations.
The British market is worth £60m a year to UK equipment suppliers. But in the food industry alone, a single robot application has been identified which would net revenues of £20m over five years.