The world's robot population is set to pass the one million mark by 2001. Forget visions of Marvin the Robot lookalikes or Metal Mickeys stalking the planet: these are industrial robots. The United Nations and International Federation of Robotics, in its annual survey of world industrial robots published last week, estimates that worldwide sales of industrial robots will rise by 15% annually over the next three years. By the end of the millennium, there will be 950,000 such robots in the world, with more than half of them in Japan. The US has the second highest population of robots, with 71,000, while Germany has 60,000. Italy and France are high up the list, too, with 25,000 and 15,000 robots respectively. The UK, however, lags behind with a mere 9,000.
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