The recession continues to put a serious damper on robot sales. With low auto sales and a slowing manufacturing sector, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is withdrawing from the manufacturing and painting robots business. Despite selling hundreds of robots over the past 10 years, market demand isn’t expected to recover any time soon. MHI will continue to provide spare parts and maintenance services for the foreseeable future, and will continue their Wakamaru business. It is also possible that Mitsubishi may simply merge with what is left of their wholly-owned subsidiary.
MHI’s Wakamaru will hopefully weather the storm since it is partly funded by NEDO’s (New Energy & Industrial Development Organization) “Next Generation Robot Intelligence Development Project” initiative. Profits have been weak for the robot, but are expected to grow now that MHI is renting the robot to businesses and schools rather than limiting themselves to the household robot market.
Wakamaru ran into trouble in its first year of sales when many families returned the robot due to its inability to cook, clean, & nurse the old and infirm, but has been a popular fixture in high-end shops entertaining customers both in Japan and abroad.