SINGAPORE (Aug 27): The residential robotic vacuum cleaner, or robovac, may be the only robot found in homes currently, but its counterparts in industry are much more pervasive and used in a whole range of sectors, from automated assembly lines to packaging and warehouses. Robots are also increasingly used in countries where population size and growth are declining. In Asia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and eventually China are likely to increase their use of robots to increase productivity and mitigate the impact of labour shortages brought on by an ageing population.

Globally, industrial robot sales are on an uptrend, according to data from the International Federation of Robotics. Last year, 380,330 units were sold, up 29% y-o-y.

Investors who wish to gain exposure to the robotics trend have a few options. Six robotic and automation exchange-traded funds are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq. The first was launched less than five years ago, and two were introduced earlier this year. Robotic- and artificial intelligence-themed ETFs have quickly amassed some US$7 billion ($9.6 billion) in assets under management collectively.

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