Productivity gains by robot users have often suffered from unforeseen problems in getting the new machines on line. Consequently, domestic consumption has leveled off in recent years as large users, especially automakers, have curtailed their purchases of robots. Meanwhile, this American-born industry has ceded its position of world eminence in production and has been surpassed by the Japanese, who have benefitted from government support both for robotics technology development and for the adoption of robots by Japanese industry. While heavy government support for robotics overseas has contributed to the troubles of the domestic robotics industry, it also appears that many U.S. producers contributed to their own undoing by developing products that were too sophisticated and expensive. Once the world leader in robotics technology, the United States now leads in only a few remaining areas with foreign competitors close behind.
Something happened on the way to an American robotics industry. In spite of much ballyhoo from time to time, both the production and adoption of robots in the U.S. have fallen short of expectations.