Global innovation in Robotics: R&D and patent analysis

The early history of Robotics can be traced back to Greek mythology with examples including Talos, the giant automaton made of bronze that circled the island of Crete three times daily to protect the Greek goddess Europa, and talking mechanical handmaidens made of gold built by the Greek god Hephaestus. These machines were all created by the gods and served the interests of their creators. Now human beings create autonomous machines to serve the interests of humankind.

Academic research on Robotics also has a long history, but significant numbers of papers really began to be published in the early 1990’s. Starting with mechanical manipulation or control algorithms, research areas have now expanded to include machine learning, man-machine interfaces and medical applications. The U.S. is the leading country for Robotics research publications, but China is quickly catching up followed by Japan and Korea in Asia, and Germany, France, Italy, and Spain in Europe.

The U.S. is the leading country for Robotics research publications, but China is quickly catching up followed by Japan and Korea in Asia, and Germany, France, Italy, and Spain in Europe.

The U.S. also shows strong research impact, while China is working to improve research impact in pursuit of world class research excellence in Robotics. CNRS, France shows outstanding research performance along with other top class institutions such as MIT, Carnegie Mellon, ETH Zurich, Technical University of Munich, Chinese Academy of Science and University of Tokyo.

Robotics is a multidisciplinary research area that covers a wide spectrum of subjects including Artificial Intelligence, Automation Control System, Biomaterials and Nanotechnology. Collaboration across subject areas is a key factor of successful innovation in Robotics. Many corporations also publish research output in Robotics. The automotive industry does active research on Robotics, followed by IT companies such as Samsung, Intel and Google. Analysis shows that the corporate sector has strong research collaboration with academic institutes around the world. Universities can be a source of innovative developments and corporations collaborate with them regardless of region.

Patent filing of innovative ideas around the world is also fast-growing. China has a large number of corporations, institutions and universities that have filed Robotic patents. Among the top 1,000 institutes in patented robotic inventions, analysis shows that 524 institutes are from China.

Patents also have citation measurement value based on the number of citation by other patents or the number of citations acknowledged by patent examiners. The number of citation of patents can be an indicator of impact on other patents. The analysis shows many companies in the medical and automotive areas have a large number of impactful patents.

Robotics is one of the fastest growing research areas in many countries and institutes. However, there are challenges as well as opportunities in strategic development of Robotics.

Robotics is one of the fastest growing research areas in many countries and institutes. However, there are challenges as well as opportunities in strategic development of Robotics.

Truly innovative research should influence research to follow. The quality of research is therefore more important than the amount of research produced. Robotics is a multidisciplinary area and continuous effort towards innovation and new technology adoption is critical.

Academic universities and research institutes are the central drivers of innovation for a given nation. Industry should consider closer collaboration with research communities to absorb innovative ideas and collaboratively work together to develop ideas in Robotics.

Since about 40% of patents filed in the U.S. are rejected, investment in innovation is always coupled with risk. Researchers and companies need to assess the global research and development landscape to understand what has been done and where white space is worth pursuing.

Since about 40% of patents filed in the U.S. are rejected, investment in innovation is always coupled with risk.

Considering the complexity of Robotics, a well-defined R&D strategy that can incorporate various technologies acting in synergy across multiple research teams is a critical success factor in leading Robotics R&D.

Read the full report, “R&D and patent analysis of Robotics.”

 

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