A Hundred Billion Reasons to Invest in Robotics Technology

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Here's a 100 billion reasons why space technology should be on your radar screen -especially if you're interested in robotics.

According to the journal Nature, the Milky Way Galaxy alone contains at least 100 billion planets.

Now forgive me if I sound excited…but that is huge.

After all, just 20 years ago, astronomers still widel y believed that our own tiny solar system contained all of the major planets.

So when I talk about how we are entering an Era of Radical Change, this is exactly what I'm talking about.

It's not about tiny incremental changes but gigantic shifts in thought.

And here is something else to ponder…

With all of this new data, scientists now believe the universe may contain more than 150 billion galaxies. The math is enough to make your head spin.

How Nuclear-Powered Robots Are Winning the New Space Race

All this brings to mind one key point: The odds that we are alone in the universe grow smaller and smaller every day.

That puts us on the cusp of a New Space Race – one that will undoubtedly favor robots.

That's why I think NASA's new Spidernaut is such an important piece of technology. It's an eight-legged robot that looks like it crawled right out of a sci-fi movie.

NASA plans to use these robots to help construct a new generation of space-science platforms that are so large and fragile they'll have to be built in orbit.

As it turns out, spiders are really nimble creatures. NASA designed the prototype arachnid robot to have the grace and weight distribution of real spiders.

If the technology works as planned, these giant spider robots would crawl across a "web" of space tethers so as not to damage delicate equipment.

Now how cool is that?…

It all goes to show you that despite the soft global economy and budget cuts, we've actually never had more interest in space exploration.

But this time it's not just the United States and Russia. Indeed, China, India and Japan are also funding major programs.

For its part, the United States plans to land on asteroids as early as 2016 using a robotic arm to scoop up samples that the spacecraft will bring home to earth.

We also will send a manned mission to Mars, where the plan is to build at least some type of base. It's why NASA launched a new robotic vehicle last November expected to land on Mars in August. Roughly the size of an SUV, the robot has 10 "eyes," a six-foot robotic arm, and is nuclear powered.

Riding Robots in The New Space Race

At the same time, we have a new generation of space entrepreneurs. That's why I keep track of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) co-founder Paul Allen and Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic and their space tourism companies.

Don't get me wrong. While I find the prospects for commercial space travel exciting, my experience tells me investors will have a much better chance to make money on robotics.

First of all…Here on earth, airlines struggle to break even. Several have gone bankrupt.

So if an airline can't cope with the high costs of jet fuel, how can a company launching rockets for a limited number of tourists be any more profitable?… It just doesn't make sense.

As for robots, these businesses manage to touch the entire technology supply chain. From software to artificial intelligence to sensors to chips, robots employ all of these things.

The Era of Radical Change
So, even if we can't find a robot company that justifies a direct investment, we will find numerous opportunities with key suppliers. That's why I think the future of space travel is actually going to ride on robotics.

But don't take my word for it…

Just ask the senior execs at Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG). They obviously believe in the future of spacebots.

In fact, Google will award $30 million to the first team that can land a robotic vehicle on the moon.

To take home the prize, the bot must travel more than 1,600 feet on the surface, then send hi-def images and video back to earth.

It's called the Lunar X Prize, and twenty-six privately funded teams are now vying for the reward. And don't think for a minute this is some kind of gimmick.

After all, it was the Ansari X Prize that provided a huge amount of support for the New Space Race and upcoming commercial travel. And that prize was worth only $10 million!

And remember, when it comes to actually working in hazardous environments like other planets, nothing beats a bot. It doesn't need oxygen, food, or coffee breaks. It doesn't get homesick for its loved ones.

Also consider that new technology promises to keep robots steeped in the latest tech changes, greatly expanding their life spans.

For instance, reprogrammable chips will provide instant upgrades so the robotic hardware lasts longer. We'll beam software patches via satellite so robot "brains" remain rich in new knowledge.

And robots will give us incredible economies of scale…

In the near future, we'll have automated factories in space or on other planets building the robots needed for exploration, experiments, mining, and helping humans.

I recently told you how an arm of the Pentagon known as DARPA wants to recycle dead satellites worth some $300 billion. To do so, it also is pushing advanced robotics.

Thus, the federal government and private industry agree on one key fact about the future – to conquer outer space, they need to invest heavily in robotics.

So, keep your eye on space technology. Eventually, it will earn robotics investors rich returns.

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About the Author

Michael A. Robinson is one of the top financial analysts working today. His book "Overdrawn: The Bailout of American Savings" was a prescient look at the anatomy of the nation's S&L crisis, long before the word "bailout" became part of our daily lexicon. He's a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and reporter, lauded by the Columbia Journalism Review for his aggressive style. His 30-year track record as a leading tech analyst has garnered him rave reviews, too. Today he is the editor of the monthly tech investing newsletter Nova-X Report as well as Radical Technology Profits, where he covers truly radical technologies – ones that have the power to sweep across the globe and change the very fabric of our lives – and profit opportunities they give rise to. He also explores "what's next" in the tech investing world at Strategic Tech Investor.

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  1. Jeff | January 23, 2012

    Well, let's just check the ol' intellect meter…….

    "After all, just 20 years ago, astronomers still widely believed that our own tiny solar system contained all of the major planets."

    Right. This guy probably still lives in his Mommy's basement. I wonder who typed all those big words for him.

  2. Jeff Pluim | January 23, 2012

    The CERN facility outside of Geneva discovered a faster than light neutrino in September and then re-did the experiment in November and received the same results. The physicists still don't understand WHY it was possible. Most physicists around the world are so stuck in their dogma of E=MC^2, that they are refusing to accept the results, even though the results were acheived 2 times!!!! If they read my paper they would understand why and they would understand that it is also possible for humans to travel faster than light without turning into energy (as per E=MC^2). The implications of this discovery are nothing short of revolutionary for humankind. What we have only imagined and seen in sci-fi movies, is truly possible. When I wrote my paper with the equations that will replace Einstein's E=MC^2, I could not have hoped for a better promotion than the results at CERN. Recently I have had requests from physicists around the world for copies of my paper. I have also had a few running discussions with some physicists who are continuing to take a run at it, mostly because I am a layman and have not presented the paper in a format that meets with their club's accepted standards. I have had others who understand that my theories are sound and deserve further investigation. But the facts remain. Matter can travel faster than light speed and CERN has proven it. My paper explains why.
    We are entering a whole new era for humankind. The financial woes that the world is experiencing now will seem very small in a few years when we rev up to explore and invest in space, and space related industries.
    I will send a copy of my paper to anyone requesting it at jeffpluim at hotmail.com

  3. Monty Kuttner | January 23, 2012

    As an avid reader of science fiction for almost 70 years (I am 82), it has been interesting to see those dreams of the future coming true, but not in the order expected. For example, there were many dozens of stories about man's first landing on the moon, BUT NOT ONE EXPECTED THAT IT WOULD BE TELEVISED LIVE TO THE WORLD!
    Stories about robots were usually set in a future time long after man had been established on many planets. Instead,it may be that robots will lead to man's conquest of space!

    Monroe S. Kuttner

  4. Cary | January 23, 2012

    Stopped reading after this, cuz it's absurd.

    "After all, just 20 years ago, astronomers still widely believed that our own tiny solar system contained all of the major planets."

  5. Steve | January 25, 2012

    I do believe there is great investment potential in robotics, but I wouldn't tie my horse to any investment that depends on NASA. Medical and industrial robotics are where you want to be. NASA will just study it to death and get their funding cancelled.

  6. M.Kapoor | January 25, 2012

    .Your suggestion to invest in Robotics is facinating and i agree with it. However most of the companies in this sector are a part of Big Groups as they need to have financial support to finance their development costs. By the time they are profitable their gains are absorbed in the Big Groups. Hence a direct investment or profit there of for small investors is not possible. If i am wrong please correct me by naming some companies .

  7. john ashton | May 9, 2012

    It is actually depressing to read the nursery-level guff that is the basis for this article. There is one respondee that claims to have produced supporting 'scientific' theory for the 'faster-than-light neutrino' results. He failed to check that this was subsequently verified as being due to a fibre-optic cable fault. When the problem was fixed the phenomenon disappeared. No thought whatsoever is given to the enormous engineering and economic difficulties that such mining ventures would entail. The software problems alone are extremely daunting even before one gets to the hardware issues; mining with autonomous robots at a distance of many thousands of miles ? Has the author thought about the issues? The costs will be ( literally ) astronomic.

  8. Stefania | February 19, 2013

    Emoshape Announces First Generation Emotions Processing Unit – EPU (Wall Street Journal)

    Processors to handle human emotions (EDN ASIA)

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