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App. B—Commissioned Background Papers .

Mitchell Hutchins Inc.

The ability of

systems.

This

the robot to interface includes the ability to

with large, computer controlled manufacturing create a task description without the neces-

sity of using a robot’s actual motion. also ease the actual programing task.

The development of off-line programing would

Further, the key to better robots lies in vastly improved electronics and software,

enhance-

ment

of

existing

software

and

incorporation

of

advances

in

other

areas,

such

as:

.

Material: composites

Robots and/or

in the future are likely to plastics rather than metal.

be

built

out

of

various

Spread processes such as coating techniques.

Mechanisms and material handling.

This suggests that robots have all the characteristics of a high technology industry:

1.

High levels of R&D

(Note:

Similar

to

spending are a must, with 7-10% the semiconductor industry.)

of

sales,

or

more,

likely.

2.

The vast number of technologies involved suggest that joint ventures are likely to occur for advancing the state of the art in robots:

Unimation’s PUMA robot was developed in a joint venture

GM

and

Unimation.

Development

of

the

product

ended

the

between relationship.

Cybotech has been formed as a joint and Ransburg, hopefully to develop a of two companies together.

venture corporation by Renault robot by bringing the expertise

Significant R&D will be done by academia This is particularly true in sensors and done by RPI, Purdue, UCLA, Florida State of Rhode Island, etc.

with support help from companies. some vision work is currently being (Gainesville), Stanford, University

3.

R&D ability is fast becoming a barrier to entry in the robot field.

Further,

it is likely

for proprietary technology to be much more important than patent protection, major technological fields dominated by software and electronics.

Similar to the

Learning Curve Pricing Key to

Industry Growth

The heavy emphasis on computers,

electronics and software as the key method of adapting

general low the

purpose robots for characteristics of

specific application suggests high technology industries.

that the pricing of robots Currently, we estimate that

will fol- around 30%

of the cost of a robot is more sophisticated models.

the electronics and software, with Hence, we believe that the learning

even a higher percentage for the

(experience)

curve

is

very

important to robotics, and prices should fall major manufacturers introduced its robot line times of the past few years, selling prices

as volume increases.

For example, one of the

four

years

ago.

Despite

the

widely

inflationary

have remained essentially unchanged, implying an

estimated 30% price reduction in real terms --directly related to the sharp volume increases.

While the base price of robots is likely to decline,

increase over the next five years. more extensive accessories such as

This reflects that sensors and vision.

the average price per unit is likely to robots will probably be equipped with Assuming technological advancement and

learning curve pricing, we believe that the robot industry during the 1980s could achieve a revenue growth upwards of 35% (cyclically), with industry revenues estimated at $500-600 mil– Lion by 1985 and approaching-$2 billion by 1990.

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