Robots taking over the world has long been the realm of science fiction writers and futurists. The world of automated butlers and self-flying cars has been only the stuff of stories. Most robots in the real world have been relegated to doing heavy industrial work or building pieces of machinery.
But that is rapidly changing.
2017 could be the year robots hit the mainstream, leading to significant investing implications. And while most of those opportunities focus on growth, there are plenty of ways for dividend investors to get in on the trend.
You may not have heard of George Devol, but his Unimate mechanical arm set forth the current revolution of industrial robots all the way back in 1961. The “simple” swinging arm was able to do repetitive tasks with much precision. It was seen as a novelty at the time, but several manufacturers saw the benefit of using machines for building. A few years later, Japan’s FANUC ran with the concept, and its machines now build everything from Ford (F ) and Tesla (TSLA ) cars to Apple (AAPL ) iPhones, which goes to show how far robots have come in a relatively short amount of time.