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Robot sales are surging in North America, with automotive and other companies snapping them up at a record pace for a second straight year. According to industry figures, robotics companies made $516 million in sales in the first quarter, up by about 28% over the same period in 2016.

Between the lines: The report follows a record 2016 for robotics sales, and consensus forecasts of continued double-digit revenue increases for the industry for the next five years. This gives a hard foundation to projections of a vast robotization of industry and job categories over the coming years, with the potential for a massive impact on employment.

Industry growth appears to be accelerating. Robotics companies racked up a record of $1.9 billion in sales last year, which was 10% higher than the previous year, according to the Robotics Industries Association, which tracks private and publicly traded companies. With the record sales of 9,773 robots in the first quarter of the year, North American companies now have about 250,000 robots at work, the group said.

Frank Tobe, who edits The Robot Report, a trade publication, said the consensus forecast is for most segments of the robotics industry to grow at double digits for at least the next five years.

Go deeper

Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump has delivered a farewell speech and departed Washington for the last time on Air Force One, kicking off the day that will culminate with President-elect Joe Biden taking office.

The state of play: Biden and Vice President-elect Biden have arrived at the Capitol. Members of congressional leadership and VIPs will soon be introduced. Watch a livestream here.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
24 mins ago - Economy & Business

Momentum builds for major antitrust reform

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's outgoing antitrust chief Makan Delrahim on Tuesday endorsed a proposal from House Democrats that would put new limits on acquisitions by large companies, during comments made at a Duke University event.

Why it matters: Momentum is building for major antitrust reform, updating rules that were written for railroads instead of routers.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump departs on final Air Force One flight

President Trump and his family took off on Air Force One at 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning for the final time en route to Florida.

The big picture: Trump's final hours as president were punctuated by his decisions to snub his successor's inauguration and grant pardons to many of his allies who have been swept up in corruption scandals.