The idea of robots replacing factory workers could sound like the stuff of science fiction, but automation is the factory of the future. This could be the year we really start seeing humans being replaced by robots; Tesla has already made progress in this, and now one firm’s study has revealed that last year the price of a small robot fell below the annual cost of a worker on an assembly line in Shanghai.

2016 was the tipping point for automation

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Goldman Sachs analyst Yuichiro Isayama and team said in a special report dated Jan. 11 that last year brought sudden and rapid progress in the area of factory automation. They believe that the price of robots dropping so much that they have become cheaper than a year’s salary for a factory worker is symbolic and driven by both supply and demand. The lede of the report “The price of a small robot falls below the annual cost of a Chinese assembly line worker” alone can send chills down ones back….

New products making this possible became available last year, and demand for electronics, logistics and in other areas pushed suppliers to develop these new products. The Goldman team focused on six areas of innovation they believe “gained enormous traction” last year and where they expect more momentum this year.

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2017 could be a “record year”

The analysts anticipate that automation firms’ volumes will reach new levels this year, surpassing their past records set in 2014. As a result, they remain positive on the automation sector and many stocks in the sector. They also named six areas in which they see the most promise, the first of which is small robots. These devices are not only cheap now but also able to work next to humans, they said.

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