Whatever happened to Foxconn’s one million iPhone-assembling robots?

Foxconn president, Terry Guo, “said in 2010 that it would produce 1 million Foxbots, a mechanical arm researched and developed by Foxconn to perform dull and dangerous jobs,” Li Xuena reports for Caixin Online. “The robots would be implemented from 2012 to 2015 to increase the rate of automation and productivity.”

“However, a poor financial showing in 2012 has become an obstacle realizing the plan. Foxconn’s net loss in 2012 was $316 million, the biggest loss it has suffered since listing in Hong Kong in 2005, the company’s financial report shows,” Xuena reports. “However, Liu Kun, a spokesperson for Foxconn, said it would continue with automation. ‘Nowadays, young workers are picky about their workplaces, and it’s become difficult for us to find workers.'”

Xuena reports, “Earlier this year at a workshop in Foxconn’s Longhua factory in Shenzhen, hundreds of Foxbots were tested. This was the result of years of effort for Foxconn. Around 2006, Guo hired a batch of experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to work full time on researching and developing robots. However, Foxconn has run into some difficulty in its automation efforts. ‘Obviously, Terry Guo overestimated the pace of using Foxbots to replace workers,’ a Foxconn equipment supplier who declined to be named said. So far, some 20,000 Foxbots have been produced by Foxconn, a source close to the company said, but half of them are still in the warehouse… Apple has also urged Foxconn to buy automation equipment, such as machines made by Fanuc Corp., a Japanese company that is one of the world’s largest industrial robot and factory automation firms, a department head at Foxconn said.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Robots made Apple switch to ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ Macs – December 11, 2012
Foxconn’s 2012 plan: More robots, no layoffs, zero suicides, new factories – November 22, 2011
Foxconn to replace some workers with 1 million robots within 3 years – July 31, 2011


  1. I’ll tell you what happened. Those robots were sold to the US government so that they could build drones more easier. HAARP also has made use of them so they could stage more “natural disasters”. Remember that explosion in Texas? Expect more in the next few months. This is dead serious, and PHONE manufacturers are in on this!

    1. Forgotten to take your meds again, Armando?
      Explain how HAARP could use robots to create natural disasters. HAARP is research into high altitude aurora using radio frequencies, and the Texas explosion was down to the company storing tens of thousands of pounds more than they were licensed to hold, of highly explosive Ammonium Nitrate, a recipe for disaster. Aero manufacturers don’t need robots to build drones, and to suggest that PHONE manufacturers are involved is clearly an indication of someone who is in need of urgent psychiatric help.
      A tinfoil hat is of no use to you, you need to see a professional mental health practitioner, before you do something that causes either yourself or others serious harm.

    2. Boys & girls here is the maths…..
      Build one robot to build a robot that builds robots.
      The robot that builds robots builds a robot but because their is no automated assembly the newly built robot is programmed to build an assembly for the first stage of robot building.
      At this point, the engineers realise their mistake and so put a stop to the robot building robot.
      They retool the robot building robot to build robots that will build the automated assembly.
      The second robot that was meant to build robots but was re-programmed to build a robot that builds automated assemblies is re-programmed to build robots that will build robots on the newly constructed automated assemblies.
      The first robot that was re-programmed to build robots that will construct automated assemblies sees what the first robot it made is now doing and thinks that it can now stop building robots that will build automated assemblies and begins to build robots that will build robots on the automated assemblies.
      The second robot finds out that a backlog is building up because there are not enough assembly building robots being produced by the first robot retools itself to build robots that will build automated assemblies….a

      Now you know why Foxcon has not fulfilled its goal as yet!

    1. Hey numb nuts,

      Go try living on $80.00 or less a month on food stamps. In certain states (republican controlled) they try to make you pee in a cup in order to collect about $250.00 a month in unemployment benefits. Meanwhile, you have about $1500.00 in bare bone expenses every month. Your math doesn’t add up as do none of other republican talking points.

      You would be “laying about” on the streets or some friends sofa.

  2. It seems Foxconn is a little hesitant to purchase robots when Apple is less willing to offer them long term contracts. This seem short sighted. If Foxconn can convince Apple it can assemble devices faster and with better quality than anyone else then a longer term relationship is inevitable.

  3. Timeframe: 2012 to 2015
    Robots so far: 20,000
    Remaining: 980,000

    Maybe that’s putting a lot into the last 2.5 years of the scheduled roll out. Or maybe it’s appropriate as part of strategy to deploy slowly at first while working out the kinks.

    And to claim the rollout is stalled, and then try to reason that the financial loss is the reason for the stall, seems specious.

    Doesn’t really seem like we know enough to go writing headlines that suggest doom.

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