General-purpose robot startup Agibot debuts humanoid with ostrich-like legs

Aside from introducing the contraption, the startup also announced plans to mass produce and deliver it for commercial operation in the second half of next year.

China’s fledgling humanoid robot club has had a new member.

On August 18, Agibot (智元机器人), a Shanghai-based general-purpose robot startup, released its much-anticipated first-ever humanoid called Expedition A1.

Chief Technology Officer Peng Zhihui, better known by his avatar “Zhi Hui Jun,” issued commands for the robot to step out of the shadows and make its first public appearance.

The humanoid, 175 cm high and 53 kg heavy, then emerged at the far end of the stage, walked officiously to the center of the limelight on ostrich-like legs, and turned to face the audience.

According to Peng, the robot has 49 degrees of freedom and paces at 7 kph. It has a load capacity of 80 kg and can lift objects weighing up to 5kg with a single arm.

Expedition A1 is expected to complete various mobility-related tasks in multiple complex scenarios, Peng said.

For instance, it can be deployed in a home, helping break an egg in the homemaker’s stead.

It is also able to assist human researchers in lab experiments, to name but a few use cases, Peng noted.

To give the robot real intelligence, Peng and his colleagues made adjustment to an unspecified open-source large language model (LLM) featuring tens of billions of perameters.

They then embedded the optimized LLM called WorkGPT into A1, enabling it to understand, sequence and implement human commands.

When A1 was applied near an auto or 3C assembly line, the built-in LLM would also adapt to the job requirements and develop the capacity necessary for fulfilling the tasks assigned.

At a media briefing a day prior to the official launch of A1, Agibot representatives said that a lot of robotic companies came up with their humanoid models recently.

In their opinion, due to the limitations of electricity-driven locomotion, the physical body of humanoid robot has encountered a bottleneck, with little room for gigantic improvement.

What matters is the robot’s level of intelligence, which boils down to the capability of the LLM used, said Agibot.

Asked why the robot has reverse bent knees, Peng said this design could make its locomotion control more flexible.

A sticker price of less than 200,000 yuan

Aside from introducing the contraption, the startup also announced plans to mass produce and deliver it for commercial operation in the second half of next year.

The robot will sell for less than 200,000 yuan (US$27,460), a price close to what Musk said Tesla’s Optimus would set consumers back — below US$20,000.

Peng explained on August 18 that one possible first application scenario for A1 is in industrial production.

He revealed that Agibot is already in advanced talks with a leading domestic auto maker and a 3C manufacturer to purchase its robots.

Only after the humanoid proves stable, safe and reliable enough will it be considered suitable for consumer-facing applications, such as cooking, folding clothes, caring for senior citizens with dementia and helping them undergo physiotherapy.

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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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