CETC Robotics to test humanoid robot for logistics, manufacturing in Q1 2025

Jiang differs from many fellow practitioners in humanoid robotics in that he is more pessimistic, convinced that this domain is still far from mature.

CETC Robotics (中电科机器人), a robotic unit of CETC (中国电科), said yesterday that it plans to deploy its first humanoid robot model to real-life scenarios for “application verification” starting the first quarter of next year.

The primary scenarios to test the robot, which wowed visitors at a recent industrial conference in Shanghai, will be smart logistics and manufacturing, according to the Shanghai-based company.

“CETC Robotics so far has no plans to mass produce this humanoid robot and ship them to the market,” said Jiang Zhiyong, a chief engineer at the research institute affiliated with CETC Robotics.

Jiang said the robot will be put through its paces next year to gauge its capabilities in performing tasks like material handling, sorting and delivery.

The point is to identify problems in real-world application, he added.

Image credit: Unsplash

Far from mature

Jiang differs from many fellow practitioners in humanoid robotics in that he is more pessimistic, convinced that this domain is still far from mature.

A key obstacle lies in the improvement to core components like motor and servo system that are essential to motion control of the device.

As he sees it, the industry now faces two conundrums.

Motion control has no doubt emerged as a key barrier. Although many domestic humanoid models exhibit adequate stability and dexterity on flat terrain inside labs, they will encounter a much more challenging environment when deployed outdoors.

Perceptive ability of bipedal humanoid robots will be another issue for researchers to tackle, Jiang said.

“Imagine in the future when humanoids roam the streets, how can they effectively recognize traffic lights, sense their surroundings and avoid obstacles?” he asked.

Photo courtesy of CETC Robotics

Is an ecosystem viable or a long shot?

In response to claims that there ought to be an ecosystem around humanoid robotics to accelerate its development, Jiang said he is much less sanguine.

Instead of thriving on its own terms, such an ecosystem can only evolve and mature in tandem with the whole industrial chain, he explained.

“It will be long before humanoids can develop into the next smart terminal that enters every household like smartphone.”

Jiang’s words seem to be an innuendo alluding to Fourier Intelligence, a general-purpose robot developer also headquartered in Shanghai.

Fourier proposed to build an ecosystem surrounding the company’s humanoid robot model GR-1, inviting integrators, large language model developers, and other partners to “enlarge the pie” together.

Alex Gu, founder and CEO of Fourier, once described humanoid robot as the next big thing in tech after smartphone and EV.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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