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The international robotics industry is at the dawn of a new age. While robots are still mostly heavy mechanisms that perform their work rapidly from behind safety barriers, "steel co-workers" are now making their way in increasing numbers into smaller factories where they can be deployed much more flexibly and work alongside human beings.

The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) reports that 179,000 industrial robots were sold in 2013, an increase of twelve percent over 2012. It forecasts that this figure will grow to 205,000 in 2014.

According the IFR, this global boom is due primarily to new areas of application. In addition, medium-sized companies are increasingly deploying robots. "Collaborative machines" which work closely with humans can already be purchased today for around 15,000 euros. Their operation pays off even when welding, painting and assembling smaller lot sizes. Furthermore, they are easier to program and are safer to handle.

Robotics in the context of the fourth industrial revolution

"At HANNOVER MESSE the world’s leading robot manufacturers will demonstrate that robotics is the key to enhanced competitiveness and flexibility in industrial production," says Marc Siemering, Senior Vice-President responsible for HANNOVER MESSE. "Companies such as Fanuc, Güdel and Kuka will be showcasing their latest generation of robots in Hannover and highlighting the key role played by robotics in the context of the fourth industrial revolution."

In its first appearance since 2003, Fonuc will be presenting its latest robotics and control/servo-drive solutions. "We will make extensive use of the fair in Hannover to profile our multidisciplinary robotics and factory automation technologies," says Olaf Kramm, CEO of Fanuc Germany.

Comau, Kawasaki, Stäubli, Mitsubishi, Epson, IBG, ABB and other leading providers will be showcasing their products and solutions at the Industrial Automation show. These innovations will include robots that are easy to program, feature intuitive touchpad controls, and can perform a greater range of tasks than earlier models thanks to the latest sensor technology. ABB for example plans to launch a two-armed collaborative assembly assistant at HANNOVER MESSE that can see and feel. "YuMi's" softly padded arms ensure that it can work safely with its human colleagues.

The Industrial Automation exhibition area will be supported by exciting special shows. At the Robotics, Automation & Vision display area, for example, system integrators will demonstrate their applications and solutions for automation in a range of industries. Mobile Robots & Autonomous Systems will present innovations in mobile industrial and service robotics.

Before HANNOVER MESSE even begins, representatives from industry and associations will meet on December 9, 2014 at the Convention Center (CC) at the Hannover Exhibition Center for the 4th ROBOTICS CONGRESS. Keynote speaker is Dr. Norbert Elkmann, Director of Robot Systems for Fraunhofer IFF. The theme of the convention is "Human-Robot Collaboration".

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