Humanoid robot maker Robot Era bags some US$14m from angel round

Robot Era said that the latest editions of the Xiao Xing series contain proprietary core parts, ranging from reducer to motor and actuator.

Chinese humanoid robot developer Robot Era (星动纪元) today announced the completion of an angel financing round valued at more than 100 million yuan (US$13.95 million), Chinese tech media outlet 36kr reported.

This raise was led by Lenovo Capital, with participation from Jinding Capital, Tsinghua Asset Management and existing shareholder Golden Resources.

Proceeds from this round will be spent on the R&D of Embodied AI and general-purpose humanoid robotics, as well as on the company’s build-up of a talent pool and technical barriers.

Founded in August 2023 in Beijing, Robot Era is incubated by Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences at Tsinghua University. The startup is dedicated to the design and development of humanoid robot products.

Prior to the latest fundraising, Robot Era had raised tens of millions of yuan from a seed round backed by Golden Resources and TuringVentures.

Coupling and decoupling

Unlike some of its rivals, the firm adopts a design featuring propriceptive actuator at its core, which improves the robotic arm’s motion performance and resistance to external shocks.

Additionally, the company equips its robots with self-built high-torque modular joints and an all-in-one structure.

The robots per se are covered from head to toe in high-strength alloy, carbon fibre and engineering plastics.

To give them better locomotion, Robot Era came up with a coupling and decoupling structure, enabling the robots’ upper and lower limbs to move with agility while maintaining its own balance.

This working mechanism contrasts with some others, where the upper and lower part of a robot tend to be trained separately.

“If the limbs are trained separately, the robot is likely to fall while performing movements, “Chen Jianyu, founder of Robot Era. “This will severely impact on its stability.”

In terms of algorithms, the company leverages model predictive control and reinforcement learning to make the robot more perceptive to the environment it finds itself in.

cnrobopedia reported last week that Robot Era put its biped to an outdoor walking test to gauge its balancing ability on slippery snow.

Manipulation of delicate objects

Currently, its humanoid are available in two versions, named Xiao Xing and Xiao Xing Max. Xiao Xing, smaller in size, is designed to walk at high speed and on a single leg. Its future use cases include outdoor inspection and logistics.

The bigger variant, Xiao Xing Max, is similar in height to an adult, with high degrees of freedom all over its torso, arms and legs.

It comes with highly nimble hands, making it suitable for application scenarios such as home or factory, where it can replace humans in manipulation of relatively delicate objects.

Robot Era said that the latest editions of the Xiao Xing series contain proprietary core parts, ranging from reducer to motor and actuator.

Aside from increased performance, another key benefit of this independent innovation is a subsequent drop in production costs, the company said.

“Lenovo Capital is consistently committed to AI and robotics, and has backed multiple outstanding firms in the robotic field,” He Zhiqiang, vice president of Lenovo Group and president of Lenovo Capital. “We bet big on the prospects of Robot Era and hope to create synergies with it to explore the blue-ocean robotic industry.”

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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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