China's Industrial and Military Robotics Development   [open pdf - 2MB]

"China's commercial and military robotics industries are rapidly growing in size and quality as the country upgrades its manufacturing sector and military capabilities. In 2013, China surpassed Japan to become the world's largest market for industrial robots, and by 2018 will account for over a third of the industrial robots installed worldwide. China's military is also fielding larger numbers of increasingly capable unmanned systems in the air, land, and sea domains that may bolster its anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. To support both commercial and military systems, China is investing heavily in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and nanotechnology that will fundamentally change the capabilities of these systems. The growth of China's robotics industry presents opportunities and challenges to U.S. economic and security interests. Chinese demand for industrial robots and high-end robotic components as well as U.S.-China bilateral investment in AI research all present market and collaboration opportunities for the United States. However, industrial robots may also improve the competitiveness and quality of China's manufacturing sector, erode U.S. competitive advantages, and contribute to China's defense industrial capabilities. The Chinese military's deployment of increasingly capable unmanned systems may provide A2/AD capabilities that degrade the U.S. military's ability to operate freely in the Western Pacific. Chinese countermeasures against unmanned systems are also an under studied subject that may complicate the U.S. military's increasing deployments of such weapons as part of the Third Offset strategy. China's persistent acquisition of foreign technologies through illicit, informal, and formal means extends to robotics and may jeopardize many U.S. technological advantages."

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