There are many robots working in manufacturing. Its a very robust market segment. In addition, Robotic inspectors are used in pipelines, power, nuclear and bomb disposal. Robotics for exploration in Space are very robust. robotics for data collection in underwater and aerial surveying is a great industry.
specific companies is taking that field exclusively (e.g., ABB,SCARA,... etc)
Japanese companies lead the world in both stock and sales of multi-purpose industrial robots. About 60 per cent of the installations were articulated robots, 22 per cent were gantry robots, and 13 per cent were SCARA robots and 4 per cent were cylindrical robots. The majority of installations are in the automobile sector. There are increasing sales into non automotive sectors such as metals and plastics.
What about flexibe robotics???
One of the big challenges for robotics is in responding to emergency situations where human workers can't go. The ongoing nuclear meltdown scenario in Japan is an example. Those in charge there seem to have considered the use of robots only as a second thought, and haven't really figured out how to use them effectively, even though this seems like a situation where robots should have been the "first responders". Here's an article about the tentative steps taken to introduce them:
Advances in safe human-machine interaction have been slow to develop.
Ultimately, this is a field of study that deserves serious investment in rigorous research.
There are a lot of hard, but solvable, problems to be addressed.
Apparently, someone is paying attention:
"This theme recognizes the emerging mechanical, electrical and software technologies that will make the next generation of robotic systems able to safely co-exist in close proximity to humans in the pursuit of mundane, dangerous, precise or expensive tasks. Co-robots will need to establish a symbiotic relationship with their human partners, each leveraging their relative strengths in the planning and performance of a task."
Thanks guys. The information you have pointed out has given me splendid ideas.
Feel free to add more
Wow! That sounds pretty exciting. I feel like a big problem (this isn't a super technical discussion) is the issue of acceptance in the larger community. There are a lot of people who worry that robotics will replace people, and then what will people do for jobs, what will be the larger societal impact. That could be an interesting topic.