Despite the rate of automation increases in the French market, robots are still underrepresented in terms of benefits and capacities offered. An initiative dedicated to speed up the adoption of industrial robots in France is Innorobo, an exhibition that took place at the Docks of Paris, May 16-18.****
During these three days, industry professionals and people with an interest in robotics were able to meet and exchange knowledge around the latest innovations and products in the industrial automation sector. The trade show also featured a conference with some of the thought leaders in the field; one of them Esben Østergaard, Universal Robots’ CTO and founder, who invented the first commercially viable collaborative robot – or simply cobot – able to work alongside people. He was present to co-host a conference entitled "Collaborative robotics: the vision of a world-leading pioneer" with the Odense Robotics cluster. A conference during which the cobot pioneer shared his vision of robotics and the process that led him to develop collaborative robots; An accessible-to-all, flexible, easily programmable and inexpensive automation technology. Although robotics always generates interest, it often comes with worries about the possible impact on employment.
ROBOTICS BEYOND PREJUDICE
Yet automation increases productivity without necessarily affecting the labor market. Germany, for instance, has four times as many robots as France, and yet the country has fewer unemployed. Moreover, in 2016, the Employment Policy Council (WCC) estimated that less than 10% of jobs would disappear in France and other OECD countries, due to automation and Digitization. A view shared by France’s former Minister of Industrial Renewal, Arnaud Montebourg, also present at the show. "With robotics, the manufacturer hires, increases turnover and takes market share," he said. By April 2017, two years after launching the program "Industrie du Futur", 4,100 French companies have been assisted in initiatives to modernize their productive tools with the potential to scale to 8,000 companies. A significant growth, but still in an unfavorable context, as explained by the minister for whom the suggested and much-discussed robot tax, would be a "serious mistake".