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Innovation vital for the future of Chinese robotics

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Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT
Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT

Robotic vacuums and mops are indisputably some of the products through which people feel the most tangible benefits of the robotic era. This seems to be especially true in China where the market for robotic cleaners is expected to be the world’s largest within two years.

This road to robot cleaning prosperity, it is believed, epitomizes China’s rising prominence in the global robotics arena that is currently being led by the US. The Chinese market is expected to become a hub for robotics innovation, adding fuel to the fire of entrepreneurship and innovation in China.

With a rapidly growing middle class in China and the common household scenario that a husband and wife both have careers, the opportunity to get a little more help keeping one’s home clean is highly valued. Having a robot as a tool at home is appreciated, and seems to work well with the hard-working culture in China.

In the near term, robots will be viewed as time-saving tools and as ways that people can continue to keep their home clean and tidy, which gives them more time to pursue a career. More importantly, robots are envisioned as a way to help handle China’s aging population in the long term, since robots will offer people an opportunity to live independently for a longer period of time.

The promising future of robot cleaners, as part of an overall buoyant landscape for robots in the world’s second-largest economy, has apparently lured in a galaxy of startups. Reportedly, a couple thousand startups in China are jumping on board. And it’s not just a domestic endeavor. Foreign ventures are increasingly exploring paths in China. For example, in addition to reaching out to the Chinese customer, US-based robotic vacuum maker iRobot is looking for companies in China to invest in and seeking partnerships.

This serves as an indication of the vibrant entrepreneurial community in the…

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