China's top 10 robot manufacturers formed an alliance on Thursday, pledging to promote the research and development of high-end industrial and service robots.
The move is part of China's broad efforts to upgrade its labor-intensive manufacturing industry with technological innovation.
The world's largest industrial robotics market plans to triple its annual output of industrial robots to 100,000 in five years.
The alliance, led by Siasun Robot & Automation Co, the country's largest robot maker by market value, will start work by strengthening research and development resources for key robot components.
Qu Daokui, president of Siasun, said self-developed robot components are the key to prevailing in the high-end robotics market, which is dominated by overseas giants such as Fanuc Corp from Japan and the multinational ABB Group based in Switzerland.
"Instead of getting locked in a price war, the top 10 robot makers will coordinate with each other to build premium brands by boosting research and development of key parts," Qu added.
He said Siasun plans to acquire competitive domestic and international component manufacturers after the Shen-zhen-listed company raises 2.96 billion yuan ($449 million) from five institutional investors in November.
The new alliance includes companies such as GSK CNC Equipment Co, a Guangzhou-based supplier of computer numerical control equipment, and startups such as Ninebot Inc, a Tianjin-based short-distance personal electric vehicle maker.
"The interaction between big companies and startups can better spur emerging-industry innovation," Qu added.
The alliance will also seek help regularly from leading universities on technologies including big data and artificial intelligence, which have become an indispensable part of service robots.
Xin Guobin, vice-minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said investment is flooding into the robotics sector, which is playing a vital role in reviving China's manufacturing enterprises.
"But we need to achieve a balance between speed and quality. Robotics enterprises need to be wary of blind expansion," Xin said.
The International Federation of Robotics estimates that as rising labor costs push more enterprises to embrace automation, China will account for more than one-third of the industrial robots installed worldwide in 2018. (China Daily)
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