ETFs for Robots and Cobots

08/29/2017 2:58 am EST

Focus: TECHNOLOGY

Tony Daltorio

Editor, Investors Alley Premium Digest

Cobots are collaborative machines that work side-by-side in industry with people. Probably sooner than most expect today, cobots will become the norm in industry around the world, notes growth stock expert Tony Daltorio, editor of Investors Alley.


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That doesn’t necessarily mean people will lose their jobs. First, people can adapt to a changing situation much more rapidly than a robot. And robots, so far, aren’t very dexterous. They can’t match human hands. There was a study about a year ago that found that it took a robot 20 minutes to fold a towel.

Research from MIT found that robot-human teams were about 85% more than productive than either humans or robots alone! This reality will continue to drive the growth in industrial robots and cobots.

Currently, 40% of industrial robots are used by the global automotive industry. But that is changing rapidly, as the fastest growth is now occurring in the electronics industry.

The collaboration between people and robots can be seen in the U.S. automotive industry. According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), there were about 52,000 industrial robots installed by the industry between 2010 and 2016.

Yet, in that same time period, the number of jobs in the automotive sector rose by over 260,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

IFR forecasts an average annual growth rate of 13% through the end of the decade, thanks to the rapid installation of robots in China.

For a pure play, you can turn to the two exchange traded funds that focus on robotics: the Robo Global Robotics & Automation ETF (ROBO) and the Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF (BOTZ).

If I had to choose one of these, I would opt for BOTZ because of its broader global exposure. Another plus is that it can be bought for no commission through the ETF marketplaces at major discount brokerage firms like Schwab.

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