Just how many industrial robots are there worldwide, you ask. Fortunately a source that may not have come to mind immediately – the United Nations Economic commission for Europe (UNECE) – says it knows. About 800,000. And that number will climb to 1 million by the end of 2007, adds the Commission (www.unece.org)
In North America in particular, the industrial robot population is pegged at 112,000. By 2007, UNECE says there will be 145,000 units in place.
While that may seem like a large number, it is low compared to Europe and Japan. For every 10,000 persons employed in U.S. manufacturing, there are 63 robots compared to 148 in Germany and 93 in the European Union. The numbers are even more lopsided in the motor vehicle industry. The U.S. has 740 robots for every 10,000 production workers while Japan and Italy each have 1,400 units and Germany 1,000.