Robots in education: UAE robotics market to see increased investments
Dubai: The UAE has been quick to adopt the latest in robotics technology across various industries and is expected to see increased investments. According to industry experts, the Middle East automation market is expected to grow at an annual rate of more than six per cent between 2012 and 2016.
“Five years ago, no one knew about robots in the UAE, but now you can see robots in classrooms, universities and lot of companies are using them. There are also drone competitions in the UAE,” Mohammad Al Shamsi, owner and CEO of Dubai-based RoboHiTec and Founder of Emirates Robotics Club, said on the sidelines of the first Robot Technology Exhibition (RTEX) conference held in Dubai on Monday.
Key delegates discussed the benefits of robotics and examined the emirate’s role in becoming the robotics hub of the Middle East and North Africa region.
According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), the global demand for industrial robots reached an all-time-high of about 168,000 units in 2013. By 2015, the IFR estimates worldwide robot sales will increase by five per cent on average as a result of the opening up of huge consumer markets in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China), South East Asia and the Middle East region.
Al Shamsi said that the technology is gaining popularity in the healthcare, education, infrastructure, safety and security, aeronautics and aviation sectors in the Middle East.
In the UAE, he said robotics has been successfully used across various sectors including the Dubai Metro and the world’s largest automated parking facility at the Dubai International Financial Centre.
Dr Claus Risager, Partner and Director of Blue Ocean Robotics, said that the UAE is an early adopter of the latest technologies and sees huge potential in the healthcare and education sectors.
“Kids love to explore and are fascinated by robots and therefore they are the perfect tools for a range of significant improvements or even revolutions in the schools. For example, introducing more individually focused teaching, where there’s a transformation from book and blackboard-based education to a one-to-one experimental way of learning,” he said.
This method also supports an “entrepreneurship culture” and more importantly there are significant improvements reported from teachers in their daily work, in addition to economic incentives for the school owners.
The main reason for the growth in robotics is the digital revolution and that is set to grow exponentially.
Talking about the growth in Europe, Dr José Barata, Assistant Professor (UNL) and Researcher (UNINOVA), said that Europe has 32 per cent share of the industrial automation market.
Not only the economy will grow but it will also create more jobs by automising, he said.
For the market to see growth, he said that human-robot interaction is very essential.
“Europe has been awarded funding of €80 billion over seven years (2014-2020) and has attracted private investment,” Barata said.
“A host of new technologies have eased and simplified the day-to-day lives of the residents. As the industry expands, it offers huge growth opportunities for local business to invest, innovate and drive advancement in the technologies of tomorrow,” he said.
There was a live robot demonstration to show its usability and relevance in day-to-day lives and The University of Wollongong in Dubai held their annual robotics competition where more than 300 participants from UAE schools shared new creative ideas from the field of robotics.
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