Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

PIF, SoftBank to Launch Robotic Systems Initiative - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh- The Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Japan’s Softbank Group plan to jointly study how robots can be used more effectively in government, business and society. In the coming months, PIF and the Japanese technology firm will establish partnerships for the project with companies, academics and government bodies across the world.

“Technology forms an integral part of achieving Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, and this project reflects the kingdom’s ambition to play an important role in helping to shape the future of the robotics sector. We are delighted to be partnering with SoftBank, already a global leader in the robotics industry, on this initiative,” said Saudi Crown Prince and PIF chairman Mohammed bin Salman.

Softbank and PIF said robots represent 0.7 percent of the global industrial workforce, or 69 robots per 10,000 employees, but there was no international agreement on the methodology for measuring the continued growth of the industry.

There are expectations that spending on robotics and related services will climb from more than $90 billion in 2016 to $188 billion by 2020. The project will explore the development of standardized measurements for robot power, performance and intelligence.

The ongoing evolution and adoption of autonomous environments have the potential to foster significant economic and social well-being, and also hold the power to affect a range of changes that humanity will need to be prepared for.

Global regulation will need to be evolved and it is essential to building better understanding of the impact on social well-being, work environments across different sectors and future job markets.

Masayoshi Son, chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp., said: “The real world applications of robotics industry are rapidly moving from theory to reality, and this shift is creating a pressing need to improve, future-proof and standardize areas relating to regulation and measurement. By taking a leadership role, Saudi Arabia will undoubtedly support its own efforts to diversify and modernize its economy.”

The partnership with SoftBank builds on the Memorandum of Understanding signed between PIF and SoftBank in October 2016 in relation to the SoftBank Vision Fund.