Japan is set to accelerate its development of robots to secure a lead over rival nations, including the United States and Germany, as a new industrial revolution beckons.

The world is "on the threshold of the fourth industrial revolution, a paradigm shift caused by robotics and artificial intelligence," said Takuro Morinaga, a professor at Dokkyo University. "A country that has a hold on the revolution will control the world."

The first industrial revolution was propelled by steam engines, the second by electric power and the third by computers.