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The robotics market is about to explode.
I predict that, in the next few years, we will see swarms of robots entering the workplace.
Of course, we've had bots working in factories for years now. But as they get both cheaper and smarter, we will find lots of new jobs for them to do. And they'll do those jobs better and better.
Robots of all sizes are already capable of doing some very complex tasks: They can perform surgery, hair transplants, and even climb inside the human body - through the mouth - to "eat" stomach cancers.
To understand the scale of the robotics revolution, just look at what's happening in China.
Cheap labor in that nation not only stole U.S. jobs, it vaulted China to the front ranks of fast-growing markets. But now robots are invading Chinese factories in a big way.
Take the case of Foxconn International Holdings Ltd., which is based in Taiwan and makes electronic components and other goods for big computer firms (it supplies parts for the iPad, iPhone, Xbox, and Kindle).
Well, Foxconn announced it plans to buy enough robots to replace roughly half the firm's 1.2 million workers in China. This is the largest robotics rollout in the history.
The trade group the International Federation of Robotics says there are about one million industrial robots now in use around the world. So, based on Foxconn's rollout alone - one company in one country - we know that figure is set to more than double by the end of the decade.
The robotics revolution is here.
So what's a clever tech investor to do?
Let's dig into the latest activities of one visionary robotics expert who's so engrossed in the field, he once told a reporter he winced when RoboCop went "belly up"...
The truth is, this small-cap robotics leader just reported record results for 2011.
Shares of iRobot only fell when the company warned that tight defense budgets could curb sales of "warbots" until the second half of the year.
iRobot investors who are concerned that the drubbing is a reason to worry about the future of this industry are making a very big mistake.
An Asian electronics firm alone will field nearly 1 million new robots in less than five years. And in a moment I'll give you the details behind this robotic horde....
But first I want to make sure you know why I'm so bullish about this emerging high-tech field.
After all, in the Era of Radical Change, robots and other smart machines will transform the world in ways we still don't fully understand.
A Robotic Leap ForwardI realize that robots have been around for at least 30 years in factories. I actually saw some of the earliest versions in use at a General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) plant in the early 1980s.
But today, the robotics industry continues to register one advance after another...
You see, we've reached critical mass in key areas. Today we have better software, chips, programming, and artificial intelligence.
All these high-tech advancements add up to a new generation of robots that can perform highly complex jobs.
Now, even low-cost Chinese workers who steal jobs from Americans face pressure from this new generation of "workerbots."
Just ask the workers at Foxconn International Holdings Ltd., a firm based in Taiwan that makes products for big computer firms.