North American robot orders up 10 percent in 2016

Robot demand surged in the fourth quarter too in industries ranging from auto to food and consumer goods.

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North American robot orders were up 10 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, according to the Robotics Industry Association.

In 2016, 34,606 robots were ordered in North America with a total market value of $1.9 billion.

For the fourth quarter, robot orders hit 10,621 valued at $561 million, up 21 percent from a year ago.

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According to the RIA, the automotive industry saw orders jump 17 percent in 2016. Robots for assembly applications were up 61 percent in 2016 with spot welding up 24 percent. The food and consumer goods industry increased robot orders by 32 percent.

Pepper lands a crowd at retailer confab At the National Retail Federation's Big Show in New York, Softbank's Pepper robot was among the hits as it demonstrated how the technology could be used in stores.

Although the specific tasks for robots varied, the overarching theme behind the growth boiled down to automation.

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