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Samsung, South Korea Team Up To Build Robots That Will Replace Human Workers

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Samsung has received a multi-million dollar investment from the government of South Korea for developing robots that can perform complex tasks in factories.

South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy will invest about $14.8 million for developing robots that can compete with cheap labor in China. Samsung has the task to build high-precision robots, which are expensive and frequently imported from outside South Korea. The South Korean government is hoping that Samsung will be able to make the required robots by the end of 2018.

Samsung is expected to make sensor encoders, precision speed reducers, controllers and motors. The robots are estimated to replace human workers in high-precision production tasks related to mobile phones and some other consumer electronics.

Many smartphone makers are dependent on cheap Chinese labor for manufacturing many products. Samsung is no different and the company also uses Chinese labor to produce many of its products including smartphones and tablets. However, labor cost in China has been increasing that is affecting the profit margins of many companies such as Samsung.

The increasing labor cost in China is one of the top priorities that make Samsung move to automated factories.

"Once affordable robots reach the market and are more widely used, it can lead to the creation of 'smart factories' and bring about far-reaching innovations to the manufacturing sector," said on a statement by the South Korean ministry.

The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) reported that the demand for robots has increased significantly in the last few years, which shows that many businesses are shifting from human workers to automated robots.

"In 2014, robot sales increased by 29% to 229,261 units, by far the highest level ever recorded for one year. Sales of industrial robots to all industries increased compared to 2013. The automotive parts suppliers and the electrical/electronics industry were the main drivers of the growth," explained by IFR.

Currently, only 10 percent of all manufacturing processes are done by robots. However, the figure is expected to double by 2025.

The South Korean ministry claims that if Samsung successfully develops robots that can perform complex human tasks, then the dependence on cheap Chinese labor will decrease over time not only in South Korea but also in other parts of the world.

Photo: Nan Palmero | Flickr

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