Advanced robotics and automation are potential game-changing technologies for strengthening the
U.S. manufacturing sector, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises in the manufacturing
sector. Next-generation advanced robots will be mobile, free to move about their environments and
able to safely collaborate with humans. This represents a stark contrast with current-generation
industrial robots that operate in highly controlled environments and are frequently isolated from
workers out of safety concerns. A recent study, commissioned by the National Institute of Standards
and Technology (NIST) finds that “barriers to innovation lead to a shortage of critical technology
infrastructure and inhibit the development and adoption of robotics technology.” Technology
infrastructure is the broad base of public and quasi-public technologies and technical knowledge
that support the research, development, production and diffusion activities of national laboratories,
universities and firms.