The robot revolution: past, present and future

November 2017

As growth in the robotics and automation space continues to gather momentum, we look back at the past 100 years of innovation and look forward to what may be to come.

8 things you might not know about robotics and automation

  1. 1920: The word robot first appears in a play by Karel Capek from the Czech word meaning ‘forced labour’ or ‘drudgery’
  2. 1997: IBM Deep Blue became the first computer system to defeat a reigning world champion when he beat Garry Kasparov in a chess match.
  3. 2013: China overtakes Japan for the first time to become the largest buyer of industrial robots in the world.
  4. Germany is the largest robot market in Europe and the fifth largest in the world, with turnover of EUR 12.8bn last year.
  5. Despite a decline in venture capital funding across industries, AI startups raised a record $5 billion globally in 2016 — an almost tenfold rise in just four years.
  6. In August 2017, robots were successfully used to cure a bacterial infection for the first time, a development with untold medical potential.
  7. An average of 10% of tasks are currently performed by robots across all manufacturing industries globally. This is expected to rise to 25% by 2025.
  8. Worldwide spending on robotics looks set to more than double in the coming years, to reach more than $188 billion in 2020.

Sources: 1. ‘Robot’, Oxford English Dictionary; retrieved October 2017; 2. Deep Blue, Encyclopædia Britannica, Published April 2012; 3. World Robotics Report 2013, IFR International Federation of Robotics, published September 2014; 4.The Robotics & Automation Industry in Germany, German Trade & Invest, Issue 2017/2018; 5.The 2016 AI Recap, CB Insights database, published January 2017; 6. Drug-delivering micromotors treat their first bacterial infection in the stomach, phys.org; 16 August 2017; 7 and 8. World Robotics Report 2017, IFR International Federation of Robotics, published September 2017.

*World’s leading ETF provider: Based on over 800 ETPs and more than $1.2 trillion in AUM globally, BlackRock Global ETP Landscape as at 30 June 2017. Trusted to manage more money than any other investment firm: Based on $5.69 trillion in AUM globally, BlackRock as of 30 June 2017.