When most people think of a robot, they picture a humanoid robot, but robots come in all shapes and sizes. At the Global Robotics Innovation Park (GRIP), we are using the term “robotics” in the broadest possible sense.
Robots are machines that can move by themselves. Some robotics require remote control by humans. Other robots are programmed to operate autonomously. Intelligent robots operate without pre-programming and do not require human supervision. Some intelligent systems are not mobile, such as a smart grid or smart building.
Robots are already widely used in our economy today. At home, commercial robots vacuum floors and mow lawns. At work, industrial robots stock warehouses and build cars. In the battlefield, robots diffuse bombs and conduct reconnaissance. Robots are well-suited to perform tasks that are too dull, dirty, or dangerous for humans. Robots explore outer space and the bottom of the sea.
Robotic innovation are causing a convergence of hardware and software, resulting in increasing overlap between mechanical, electrical, computer, and civil engineering. Existing innovations in robotics technology have only begun to tap the potential of robotic, autonomous, and intelligent systems. Future innovations in robotics will revolutionize the way humans interact with the world in ways we cannot yet conceive. Robotics have already begun to redefine entire industries, including advanced manufacturing, logistics, transportation, security, defense, medicine, health care, space exploration, environmental engineering, and agriculture.
The robotics industry offers a compelling regional economic development opportunity for the Upper Midwest. With its central location and robust and growing robotics economy, the Twin Cities Metro Area in Minnesota is the ideal site for GRIP.
Minnesota is a global leader in ground robotics and industrial robotics. Minnesota’s robotics economy includes basic and applied research institutions, well-established businesses and young companies, professional associations and extensive resources in complimentary industries. Minnesota already has strong industry clusters in bioscience, agriculture, retail, mining and industrial manufacturing. Robotics innovations will benefit these traditional Minnesota industries, as well as emerging industries, including unmanned aerial vehicles, security and defense.
We are on the cusp of a global robotics revolution. In 2006, Bill Gates compared the potential of the robotics industry to the potential held by the computer industry in the mid-1970s. In the last six years, robotics have already begun to revolutionize the way humans interact with the world.
Acknowledging that robotics technology is reaching a “tipping point” and is poised for explosive growth, the Obama Administration recently launched the National Robotics Initiative, allocating federal resources to accelerate progress in the field of robotics.
The individuals, organizations and communities that seize the opportunity to be a part of the robotics revolution will prosper. If Minnesota is going to be an integral part of the global robotics industry, we must act now.
In the Upper Midwest, we have all the elements necessary to thrive in the global robotics revolution; we just need a place to organize those efforts. GRIP will be that place.
The potential of Upper Midwest robotics economy is currently limited due to the fact that the participants in the robotics industry are siloed. At best, this lack of coordination and collaboration just means increased costs to businesses. At worst, it means we lose those businesses, talent and intellectual property to other regions.
Moreover, the Upper Midwest manufacturing sector is struggling. Our workers need training and jobs, our entrepreneurs need resources, and our businesses need educated, innovative employees to remain competitive. GRIP will accomplish regional economic development through job creation, workforce development, business incubation, and increased collaboration between private entities and through public-private partnerships. GRIP will help the Upper Midwest marshal our resources, enhance industry productivity, facilitate innovation, and capitalize on our Midwest work ethic.
GRIP will continue to position Upper Midwest as a global hub for robotics innovation. GRIP will increase the revenue and market share for Upper Midwest companies by promoting the global reputation of the robotics industry in our region, increasing the number of local engineers and technicians with relevant robotics expertise, facilitating public-private partnerships, and connecting businesses with complementary technology. Our goal is to co-locate the ecosystem of the robotics industry within GRIP so that GRIP tenants can share common technologies, knowledge, and resources. GRIP will leverage the unique expertise and resources of all participants in the robotics industry to create a decisive and sustainable economic advantage for decades to come.
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