China Aiming To Replace Millions Of Workers With Robots


China is already the world's largest importer of robots.

Now, according to, the country is aiming to automate labor currently being conducted by millions of low-paid workers with a fleet of sophisticated and capable robots.

That plan was discussed in detail by the People's Republic of China vice president, Li Yuanchao, during the country's recent World Robot Conference in Beijing.

There, Yuanchao made China's intentions of using robots to help the country achieve at least 6.5 percent annual growth from 2016 to 2020. Making the announcement, he was surrounded by several robots, ranging from heavy-duty industrial robots to be used to manufacture in factories or plants to economic-friendly drones, automated vacuum cleaners and even robots designed to be personal companions.

Still, the process of deploying millions of robots isn't as easy as pressing start and watching them work. China faces an uphill climb in getting robots advanced in areas of sensing and overall intelligence and also getting humans up to speed in designing, building and overall regularly maintaining them.

Perhaps the best working model would be part robot, part human.

"Not all labor-intensive industry can be automated," Tianran Wang, of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told the Technology Review as part of the Beijing conference. "We need hybrid automation."

Although China is the world's top importer of robots and is expected to account for upwards of 33 percent of all industrial robots by 2018, according to Technology Review, the number of robots per worker in the country is lower lower than that of fellow countries. That, in itself, signals the room for massive growth of robots working in China.

Technology Review observed robots, made by Shanghai industrial robot manufacturer Slasun, moving items from one side of the production line to the next.

China is open to collaborating with other countries, private companies and experts in the field in order to advance their robots as well.

 "China would like to welcome robot experts and entrepreneurs from all over the world to communicate and cooperate with us," Yuanchao said, "in order to push forward the development of robot technology and industry."

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