Robot Vision Largely Untapped (sidebar)

While the use of machine vision for robot guidance can greatly increase the flexibility of the robot, the technology is “still a largely untapped opportunity,” says the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based trade association.

On average, vision-guided robots account for just 6.3 percent of total robot sales, according to a recent RIA-commissioned survey of robot suppliers. Approximately 611 vision-guided robots worth $26.1 million were assembled and sold in North America in 2004, the survey showed.

But survey respondents foresee rapid growth for the technology, at an impressive 27 percent annually. At that rate, sales of vision-guided robots could rise to 2,018 units, worth $86.1 million, in 2009, the RIA says. That assumes that the percentage of all robots sold that are vision-guided remains constant over time at 6.3 percent. If that number is increased by only one-half of a percentage point each year, sales of vision-guided robots could total around $120 million in 2009, the association points out.

See the story that goes with this sidebar: Make Mine Flexible

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