China’s Robot Revolution

by Jeff Burnstein, President, Association for Advancing Automation

Last week I delivered a keynote address on the Outlook on US Robotics and Intelligent Technologies at the fourth annual World Robot Conference (WRC) in Beijing.  Some 1200 people attended the Main Forum, which also featured keynotes from industry leaders such as Esben Ostergaard and Dr. Daokui Qu of RIA Members Universal Robots and Siasun respectively.  In addition to the Main Forum and several other conference sessions, WRC featured exhibits from leading industrial and service robot companies and student competitions.  More than 250,000 people were expected to attend the exhibits (many of them children, as WRC is a public show).

The opening ceremonies featured a talk from Vice Premier Liu He, who discussed the importance of cooperation in the global robotics industry.  His message was well received since WRC has 21 international sponsoring organizations from associations in Russia, Israel, Australia, Italy, the US, among others.  Following Premier Lui’s talk, I had a brief chance to encourage him to move toward a quick resolution of the current trade disputes between the US and China.  He told me solutions were being worked on (he heads the Chinese bilateral talks with the US).  The next day, right before my keynote, China announced that the talks, which had been stalled, would be resumed in the US shortly.  I shared this positive news with the audience during my introductory remarks.

While I was in Beijing I did several interviews with leading media outlets in China and throughout Asia.  The highlights were live segments on CNBC Asia and CGTN (China’s English-language television network).  I also filmed a segment with the Associated Press.  These press interviews provided great opportunities to discuss key issues as well as establish additional awareness of RIA and A3 to the world’s largest robotics market.

Other key activities included participating in a roundtable discussion with Chinese leaders and the international sponsoring organizations, meeting with RIA member Siasun, touring the exhibits, and listening to talks on robotics, AI, and current research efforts.

The week was packed with business, but our Chinese hosts did take us to the world-famous Laoshe Teahouse to see amazing acrobatic performers, musicians, tea preparations, and more.  I highly recommend a visit if you’re ever in Beijing.

This was my second trip to WRC and I look forward to returning for the 5th Anniversary event next year.