Demand for multi-purpose robots is rising, unlike supply.

Two recent research studies have unearthed a clear correlation between ageing societies and the use of robots. The logic is simple. As the proportion of people in a country go into retirement, the amount of available labour shrinks. Robots are then drafted in to make up the difference. Moreover, all these elderly people need still further labour to care for them; again, robots can fill the void. Japan most clearly exhibits these trends with robots such as AIBO, Paro, Pepper and Resyone. But many other countries such as China, Germany and the UK face the same outlook. The trouble is that most robots are more or less single-use. If they are really going to look after an old person at home, then currently there would need to be hundreds of them in the house to perform all the different tasks that are needed. Both robot design and AI are lagging a long way behind. Rarely has there been such a gap between demand and supply.

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