Foxconn confirms it’s starting to deploy robots to help assemble iPhones

Foxconn robot

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd., also known in the Western world as Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer, will soon start deploying sophisticated robots to help assemble iPhones, CEO and Chairman Terry Gou announced during a shareholder meeting Monday.

Foxconn assembles a range of consumer electronics products for other companies, including iPhones and iPads. The plan to replace factory workers with robots was first announced two years ago, but hit roadblocks due to high cost of robot deployment…

GSDome passes along a report by IT Home [Google Translate] claiming Gou told shareholders that robot testing has entered the final phase, with first units set to soon replace human employees who assemble Apple’s iPhones.

Foxbots, as the officials call them, cost around $20,000 to $25,000 per unit and each will be able to assemble an average of 30,000 devices. The first wave of deployment includes 10,000 robots, a $250 million investment.

iRobot Apple

It’s interesting that Foxconn is building these robots itself. Since 2012, the company has been able to churn out 30,000 robots per year. Foxconn and rival Pegatron last month ramped up hiring ahead of the iPhone 6, with the former having hired an extra 100,000 workers to meet production demand.

Apple will have priority to use the robots. Curiously enough, Foxconn’s CEO earlier in the year met with Google’s Andy Rubin to discuss speeding up robot deployment by using Google’s upcoming robotic operating system for manufacturers, as part of Google’s vision for robotics.