In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one need not look very hard to find robots under construction, being tested or in action. The state is fast becoming the robotics capital of the country. A long list of companies make their headquarters here including iRobot Corporation, the creators of the Roomba vacuum cleaner. Bluefin Robotics Corporation manufactures underwater units, CyPhyWorks Incorporated designs spying hover crafts and Rethink Robotics creates robots used in manufacturing. Massachusetts also boasts MIT and WPI, both schools that remain on the cutting edge of developing new technology every year.
Altogether, there are 100 robotic companies and 35 research and development facilities that design and manufacture robots for consumer, industrial, law enforcement, medical, military and research purposes. In the past four years alone, 11 new companies emerged. Massachusetts sells and exports more robots than any other location on the planet. Studies estimate that annual sales are close to $2 billion. The industry also currently employs approximately 3,200 people.
Robotics companies are thriving in the state, as manufacturers and other organizations are expressing an ever-growing desire to incorporate the machines into daily operations. While some fear that the automated devices will replace humans in the employment sector, the machines are largely being created to perform the work, not replace worker. In military scenarios for example, robots have the capability of entering dangerous areas, which saves the lives of troops.
The phenomenal growth of robotics also influenced the University of Massachusetts Lowell to construct the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation Center. The 10,000 square foot facility will serve as the testing grounds for manufacturers desiring to test their robots in a variety of environments. The site will feature indoor and outdoor testing centers that include sand pits and splash pools. The ideal location means that the facility will be readily accessible to dozens of companies.
Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council chief executive Tom Hopcroft believes that robots are becoming common technology and that only a few places in the world make that possible.
Massachusetts is one of them.