• Robots with intelligent sensors examine the products in a warehouse.

Robots with intelligent sensors examine the products in a warehouse. (Photo : www.solidarityeconomy.net)

Government officials of Foshan City in Guangdong Province have announced on July 10, Friday, plans to open a 20,000-square-meter-plus "robot supermarket" in the city's Shunde District, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xuan Ganhua, an official with the local robotics industry area in Shunde, said that the first-of-its-kind center will open to the public in September, and will provide robotics developers a place to exhibit and sell their latest models. The center will also provide a platform for research and development and intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.

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"It will incorporate robot sales and exhibitions as well as labs where industrial robots are designed, programmed and built," Xuan said.

Xuan added that robots at the center will cater to different industrial sectors, including automobiles, furniture and machine tools. An IPR protection court will also be located on the premises, he said.

Officials said that they will allow only vendors of well-known brands to join and a total of 30 Chinese and foreign brands have already been selected for the initial phase.

"We have already chosen some companies from scores of applications, including German brand Kuka, and we are still in the selection process," Lie Haijian, deputy district head of Shunde, said.

A model area for robotics development in the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong, the Shunde District currently has more than 20 robotics companies, producing robots at a growing 30 percent annually.

The report said that the main complex of the center has been completed and workers are now decorating the interior.

The development of industrial robots is growing in China as the country's manufacturing industry suffers from worker shortage and high labor costs.

According to the International Federation of Robotics, about 400,000 industrial robots will have been purchased by China by 2017; while last year, only some 56,000 industrial robots were sold in the Chinese market, up 54 percent annually.

"The 'supermarket' will be conducive to development in the robotics industry in China because it will bring the world's latest technology into one platform," Yang Yang, general manager of Changsha Chaint Robotics Co., Ltd, said.

The report said that despite growing demand, international producers still exceed China's domestically produced robots. Last year, only 28.6 percent of the total robots sold on the Chinese market came from domestic producers, and even the key components of domestic robots were imported abroad.

"The new 'supermarket' gives companies from home and abroad a chance to compete and learn from each other," said He Minjia, general manager of GSK CNC Equipment Co. Ltd., a Guangzhou company focused on numerical control of machine tools.

"It might be difficult to present all kinds of robots in just one supermarket, but I think it sets up a very good example of how the industry could go in the future," He added.