The Chinese have recently unveiled a robot developed by National Defence University.

It’s called AnBot and it looks like a cross between a Dalek and R2N2.

AnBot was designed to be a force multiplier for police departments worldwide. Assuming there wasn’t somebody on a unicycle inside it, it is capable of autonomous navigation and intelligent video analysis.

It can accelerate to 18 kilometres per hour when giving chase.

Powered by an 8-hour battery, it can patrol on its own at airports, railway stations and other public places vulnerable to terrorist attack.

It has an SOS button worried citizens can press to put them through to police HQ, and via human remote control can neutralise a threatening person with an electric shock.

The AnBot cannot independently decide to taser somebody, yet.

Several police authorities in China have said they’re in the market for AnBots.

AnBots are likely to be used particularly in Xinjiang in Western China which has suffered some gruesome terrorist attacks by Muslim Uyghurs—one which involved sabre wielding terrorists dressed head-to-toe in black at Kunming railway station.

There is always the prospect that they will evolve and multiply into armies of smaller, more nimble robots and join forces with the ‘armed attack’ robots carrying rifles and grenade launchers that are under development in China.

The shape of things to come in an increasingly anxious world where authorities across the world are in a state of ‘permanent crisis management’?

Reminds me that at the Sohn Investor conference last week, Jeff Gundlach, the exceedingly prescient ‘bond king’, said he thought Trump would win in November and that defence would be the place the invest: and that includes anti-terrorist and population control systems, way beyond iRobot’s bomb disposal robots to something a lot more like variations on the AnBot theme.

How to Invest: Made in China 2025

In this context, I’m constantly checking what R&D is going on under the auspices of DARPA–mind minding stuff.

In fact I believe Robotic Automation is on the cusp of a prolonged surge as a slow growth, low profit global economy urgently needs to boost its currently totally flat productivity growth for political and social reasons.

For China it’s a case of force majeure if it is to move to its next economic phase of upgrading its manufacturing industry and moving its products upmarket. Under the State Council’s ‘Make in China 2025’ fiat China is going to have to activate large numbers of robots.

Despite its having accounted for nearly 30% of global robot shipments in 2014 and again last year its robot density is still under 50 robots per 10,000 manufacturing workers, half the world average.

To correct this China is expected to account for 40% of global robot shipments by 2020, mainly from Fanuc, Kawasaki and Yaskawa and ABB and Kuka. All in all the global installed base of industrial robots is expected to grow by 10% a year for the next decade vs 2%-3% a year in the decade to 2013. Over the course of the decade networked robots that teach themselves and each other will become common.

Home and social robots enabled by the availability of cheap sensors and the chip sets developed for smart phones and tablets will become commonplace in homes, recreation centres, health centres, and SME workshops over the next decade, with the ‘Shinto’ cultures of Japan and S.Korea with China getting into the act big time as well.

On the back of a capacious definition of what a robot is, Softbank‘s charming Pepper ‘social robot’ getting its ‘smarts’ from IBM’s Watson in the Cloud is a case in point: so, too are Amazon‘s Echo/Alexa, also based in the Cloud and China’s Rokid digital assistants.

Extending the category to remedial robots such as Cyberdyne‘s ‘exoskeleton’ to help the lame walk unaided and co-worker robots from Rethink Technology and Universal Robots < now part of Teradyne >, new breeds of robots are on the cusp of creating mass markets.