At a news conference held earlier today, Panasonic director Masashi Makino reported that the company plans to turn its robot business profitable, at least on an annual run rate basis, by 2016. Long term plans call for 100 billion yen (USD$1.12 billion) in annual sales at that time.
Keep in mind that the company isn’t saying that their total robot business will be profitable when the total investment and operating results are taken into account going back to Year One. They are just saying that the robot operations will start to return a small profit when only that year’s operations are considered in isolation. This indicates that the company intends to stay in the business for the long term.
To achieve their goal, they will focus on pragmatic applications, like robots to assist the elderly or infirm with products like their hospital bed that transforms into a wheelchair.
According to the article, Makino stated, "Our products may not exactly fit your image of robots ... Our robots may not be flashy but their value is in their human-helping capabilities,"