China has recently unveiled ambitious plans to enter the mass production of humanoid robots, a move it believes will be as revolutionary as the advent of smartphones. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in China, in a comprehensive blueprint released last week, has asserted that these robots will have a profound impact on the world.
According to the MIIT, their goal is to achieve an advanced level of production and mass availability of these robots by 2025, outlining their aspirations in a roadmap of development goals. The document translated their vision as these robots becoming disruptive products, following the likes of computers, smartphones, and new energy vehicles.
While the MIIT’s document was deemed ambitious by Bloomberg, some Chinese companies have taken tangible steps towards realizing this vision. A notable example is Fourier Intelligence, a Chinese startup, which has announced its intention to commence mass production of its GR-1 humanoid robot by the end of this year, as reported by the South China Morning Post.
The company, based in Shanghai, aims to deliver thousands of robots in 2024, capable of moving at 5 kilometers per hour and carrying loads of up to 50 kilograms.
China isn’t the only country ramping up efforts in the field of humanoid robot production. In the United States, Agility Robotics is set to open a robot factory in Oregon later this year. Their plans involve manufacturing hundreds of bipedal robots that can replicate human movements like walking, crouching, and carrying packages.
Amazon is currently in the pilot phase of testing Agility Robotics’ Digit robot for potential use in automating its warehouses.
Damion Shelton, CEO of Agility Robotics, expressed his expectations of a gradual increase in Digit deployments in the near term, stating, “We believe mass integration will eventually occur, but bipedal robots are still a relatively new advancement.”
Furthermore, Tesla, the electric vehicle giant, has also thrown its hat into the ring by developing its humanoid robot named Optimus, or Tesla Bot, as revealed by Elon Musk in 2021.
However, Tesla’s robot is still in the early stages of development, with Musk noting in a 2022 Tesla AI Day event that it was the first time the prototype had walked “without any support” when it made its entrance on stage. It remains a work in progress before it’s ready for mass production.
In conclusion, China’s ambitious foray into mass-producing humanoid robots is part of a global trend where companies from different corners of the world are striving to push the boundaries of robotics and automation, with the potential to reshape various industries and our daily lives in the coming years.