In an effort to further promote Japanís robot industry, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) plans to establish an annual Robot of the Year Award to recognize outstanding robots developed and put into practical use each year.
Beginning this July, the ministry will begin accepting applications for this year's candidates. After review by a panel of experts, the results will be announced at an award ceremony held at the end of the year.
In addition to the grand prize, prizes will be awarded to robots in the following categories: (1) industrial robots, such as those used in painting and welding, (2) service robots, such as those used in cleaning and security, (3) robots for use in special environments, such as rescue robots, and (4) robots developed by small to medium sized venture firms.
Japanís market for Japanese robots is expected to grow from its current 500 billion yen ($4.5 billion) to about 1.8 trillion yen ($16 billion) in 2010, with particularly strong growth expected in the household service robot industry.