(Yicai Global) Dec. 14 -- As China's population ages, with over 300 million retirees, people working in China's rehabilitation robot sector are very confident about its prospects and their competitive advantages over foreign products.
Unlike industrial robots, China's development in the field of service robots is almost synchronous with that of the world, experts told Yicai Global. Domestic-made service robots have the foundation and strength to achieve development breakthroughs in the current and future periods.
Last year, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the National Development and Reform Commission and eight other ministries jointly issued a document to encourage private capital to participate in the development of the elderly care industry, including building and operating elderly care facilities.
"This is definitely a good thing for domestic companies. Our products will hold an advantage over foreign counterparts as private medical institutions and elderly care agencies put more emphasis on value for money when procuring equipment," He Qin, chief engineer of Mai Kangxin Medical Robot Co., told Yicai Global.
One of the advantage Chinese companies have is price. Medical rehabilitation robots with a real-time monitoring function scheduled to be released soon by Mai Kangxin are expected to be priced at over CNY40,000 a set. German products with similar functionality are sold at around CNY100,000 a set, more than double the price of their domestic counterpart.
Rehabilitation robots produced by Chinese firms will cater better to Chinese people's usage habits and be tailored to their needs. China's rehabilitation robot market will be gradually occupied by local players.
"In addition, as robots become more widespread, their prices will fall gradually. When it comes to man-machine dialogues in the future, local products are set to outperform foreign ones in terms of habits and behavioral aspects," said Zhang Jin, vice president of Siasun Robot Automation Co.
There are just a few local products available in the market now as many are still at the clinical trial stage, Zhang told Yicai Global. "We will soon see a lot of rehabilitation robots hitting the market, including orthopedic, cervical traction and walking-aid robots. There are many such robots as technology is already not a problem."
The number of people aged 60 or more in China reached 212 million in 2014, or 15.5 percent of the total population. That is forecast to rise to more than 17 percent by 2020 and to 33 percent by 2040. Thus, the elderly care market has great potential for growth.
"In fact, no matter who is making the predictions, even if the numbers are different, one fact remains, it will be a massive market and there will be no ceiling," said Zhang.