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There are now 1 million industrial robots toiling around the world, and Japan is where they’re the thickest on the ground. It has 295 of these electromechanical marvels for every 10 000 manufacturing workers—a robot density almost 10 times the world average and nearly twice that of Singapore (169), South Korea (164), and Germany (163).

Although the top three countries are in Asia, Europe gets the regional title as the epicenter of global automation; it has a robot density of 50, compared to 31 in the Americas and 27 in the Asia/Pacific region.

IEEE Spectrum computed the robot density for 67 nations in all, using data from the International Federation of Robotics and the International Labour Organization.

Alexey Dudoladov/iStockphoto & Chad Anderson/iStockphoto

By 2011, the world’s industrial robot population is expected to rise to 1.2 million. Which countries these new robots will call home—and how the machine-to-human balance will change—remains to be seen.

Illustration: Mike Vella
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How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page
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By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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