EV maker XPeng joins humanoid robot race with launch of model PX5

To deploy the contraption to more scenarios, XPeng's engineers designed it in a way that allows it to grip a pen, pour water, remove paper tissue from a box, pass a ball into another hand and shake hands with a human.

China’s humanoid robot club has admitted a surprise new member.

XPeng Motors (小鹏汽车, NYSE: XPEV), one of China’s earliest EV makers, yesterday unveiled its first-ever humanoid robot PX5, in one of the company’s latest attempts at diversification.

The PX5, which stands 1.5 m tall, was reportedly developed by XPeng itself and can walk bipedally.

At the 1024 XPeng Tech Day 2023, He Xiaopeng, founder and CEO of the EV producer, introduced the PX5, which he said possesses industry-leading abilities to move bipedally and cross over hurdles on its own.

Self-balancing skills

Equipped with high-performing motor joints developed in house, PX5 reportedly has enhanced self-balancing skills while walking.

It features an endurance of more than two hours. The built-in battery pack enables it to play soccer and ride on a self-balancing scooter.

To deploy the contraption to more scenarios, XPeng’s engineers designed it in a way that allows it to grip a pen, pour water, remove paper tissue from a box, pass a ball into another hand and shake hands with a human.

These movements are meant to showcase the robot’s fine motor skills, namely, to test whether it is nimble enough.

Exploring the application cases

According to He, PX5 has ultralight bionic arms that imitate human limbs. Designed to move in seven degrees of freedom, the arms have a position repeatability of 0.05mm and a payload of 3kg each.

The arm weighs 5kg itself.

Each robotic hand has 11 degrees of freedom. Operating on the basis of a rigid and flexible drive solution, the hand can clench itself tightly around objects of different sizes.

Notably, a single hand weighs 430g and has perceptive ability thanks to the tactile sensors installed on it.

He said XPeng will continue to increase the humanoid’ height and connect it with large language models like that undergirding ChatGPT.

The robot’s primary application scenarios include adoption in factories to perform unmanned patrol or introduce XPeng’s vehicles to customers at its showrooms.

No stranger to robotics

To the uninitiated, XPeng isn’t a stranger to legged robotics.

The company debuted a quadruped robot called “Pony” in September 2021, developed by its ecosystem company XPeng Robotics (鹏行智能). The robot deviates from similar quadrupeds in that it can be ridden like a horse.

At the Tech Day 2023 event yesterday, XPeng also launched other new products, including its full-size MPV X9, smart driving technologies, smart cockpit and most eye-catching of all, a disconnectable flying car.

China is gripped by a humanoid robot frenzy that began with the efforts of UBTECH (优必选) and later grew into an industry-wide mania involving established companies like Xiaomi (小米, HK: 01810) and startups like Fourier Intelligence (傅利叶智能).

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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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