The National Council for Research and Development proposed that a countrywide program for R&D in the field of robotics be created to advance society and the economy.More sophisticated robots could greatly contribute to the quality of life of many sectors, including for the disabled and the elderly, said the council, which is part of the Science, Technology and Space Ministry.The project has an economic potential of hundreds of billions of dollars, including exports. A report on the project was presented at the Herzliya Conference on Tuesday.For example, the Japanese government has estimated that by 2035, the market for robots in that country alone will exceed $100 billion.According to the recommendations, the state program would encourage the construction and development of robots and autonomic systems for medicine, transportation, welfare and nursing, industrial automation and security uses. The council also suggested that a national R&D institute for robotics be opened and that an annual professional conference with experts from here and abroad be held annually.Unpiloted aircraft, surgical robots, home maintenance robots, navigation robots, robotic caregivers for the disabled and other applications have already been developed and are currently used.Science, Technology and Space Minister Danny Danon said at the conference that a long-term robotics program is vitally needed. Some robots will make up for the shrinking proportion of workers in the population, with the growth of the haredi and Arab sectors. They can also be used to teach in schools. The robotic industries today have no single body giving them direction, he added.