China’s AI robots catching up with global rivals

Company officials at an industry fair told on Thursday that humanoid robots made in China are quickly overtaking their international competitors. Industry insiders say that because of China’s comprehensive industrial chain advantages and its mastery of fundamental technologies, the US and other nations may have to rely on China’s manufacturing capacity and industrial infrastructure to produce humanoid robots.

Embodied intelligence and humanoid robots are two emerging tech concepts that are gaining popularity as the world moves closer to the artificial intelligence (AI) age.

A Tesla employee present at the event stated that the company placed “great importance the WAIC amid China’s rapid AI development” in addition to announcing the arrival of the much-awaited humanoid robot, the Optimus Gen2 model, at the 2024 World AI Conference and High-Level Meeting on Global AI Governance (WAIC) in Shanghai on Thursday. This was the robot’s first appearance in China.

An 18 humanoid robot cohort created by Chinese manufacturers greeted Tesla’s Optimus model. The robots showed off their fine motor abilities and interacted amicably with the participants.

The XR4—a humanoid bipedal robot—was unveiled on Thursday by Shanghai-based Dataa Robotics. Dataa’s CEO Huang Xiaoqing told that the XR4 is now available for pre-sale and that orders had been placed.

A full-size universal humanoid robot named “Healthy Loong” was unveiled by the National and Local Co-Built Humanoid Robotics Innovation Center in Shanghai. Yang Zhengye, the director of marketing for the company, claims that the robot can move quickly, avoid obstacles quickly, and climb and descend hills steadily.

Yang informed that additional improvements and revisions will be made in the next two years through collaboration with top industry partners.

Along the road of embodied intelligence, robotics companies have been working toward more intelligent and human-like robots ever when ChatGPT first appeared.

According to Huang, China’s humanoid robot business is becoming more competitive in the market and closing the gap with its US rivals.

Some domestic robots are currently on par with their foreign counterparts in terms of features and performance. Huang claims that the company has produced all of the essential parts of Dataa’s robot joints, including speed reducers and other materials, with total technological independence.

These human-like robots, outfitted with state-of-the-art technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and computer vision systems, have made significant strides in a variety of application scenarios, including the manufacturing and services industries, Huang continued. This has demonstrated their sophisticated capabilities and potential for further development.

Huang stated that China’s edge in the electromechanical manufacturing sector offers a strong basis for the production of humanoid robots, highlighting the country’s well-developed manufacturing sector with comprehensive supply chains. In the future, he said, nations like the US might have to rely on China’s industrial infrastructure and manufacturing prowess to produce humanoid robots.

Experts stated that despite intense international competition, the Chinese humanoid robot sector still needs to increase R&D spending to improve product quality and technological innovation.

Jiang Lei, a robotics expert based in Shanghai, told that important issues to be solved are boosting the robots’ capacity to recognize and react to human emotions, improving their adaptability to various surroundings, and guaranteeing their safety and dependability in daily use.

Furthermore, he continued, closing the gap between the idealized concept of humanoid robots and the actuality of their broad adoption will require making robots more accessible and user-friendly.

Jiang thinks that human-like robots will become just as common as new-energy vehicles in the near future, indicating that the future is robotic.

China’s humanoid robotics market is growing quickly, and big tech companies are preparing for scale manufacturing, which is a big step toward commercialization. According to the Xinhua News Agency, joint venture manufacturer FAW-Volkswagen and Shenzhen-based UBTECH Robotics announced on Monday that they will collaborate on creating highly intelligent and adaptable production lines as well as an autonomous vehicle factory.

The growth rate of China’s humanoid robot industry is expected to exceed the global average. The market is projected to grow to about 38 billion yuan by 2030, from 2.158 billion yuan ($298.02 million) by 2024. The Chinese think tank Gaogong Industrial Institute estimates that throughout this period, sales volume will climb from approximately 4,000 units to 271,200 units, demonstrating significant potential in the Chinese humanoid robot market.

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