iFlytek makes the list as standard-setter on China’s humanoid robots

The selection of iFlytek came as China has been making significant inroads in the field of humanoid robots, a segment traditionally dominated by American pioneers like Boston Dynamics.

iFlytek (科大讯飞, 002230.SZ), one of China’s AI titans, has been included into a working group to formulate standards on China’s humanoid robots.

The voice recognition heavyweight has been chosen alongside Xiaomi and the government-sponsored Zhejiang Lab, which is based in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, to join the working group.

The decision was announced by China’s robotics standardization technological committee, an industry association, during the 2023 World Robot Conference in Beijing.

It’s customary for Chinese governments or state-affiliated organizations to set up task forces named working group to achieve a certain goal.

The selection of iFlytek came as China has been making significant inroads in the field of humanoid robots, a segment traditionally dominated by American pioneers like Boston Dynamics.

Somehow the decision to include iFlytek has caught many observers by surprise, as the company so far mainly focuses on development of AI algorithms rather than hardware, let alone robots.

In a corporate statement, iFlytek expressed its appreciation for being assigned the role as a deputy leader of the standard-setting working group.

“This shows the recognition by the working group of iFlytek’s AI and robotics technologies,” the statement said.

Super Brain 2030

The Hefei-headquartered firm, which initially became famous for its speech recognition and translation software, has risen to prominence in China’s AI landscape on the back of its iFlytek Super Brain 2030 Plan.

This is a series of strategic initiatives to advance the quality and availability of personal robotics and artificial intelligence solutions to assist families and communities, according to a press release.

A race is on within China to produce humanoid bipeds that can become truly applicable, ubiquitous assistants.

An estimate by China Institute of Electronics says that the nation’s humanoid robot market could hit 870 billion yuan (US$120 billion) by 2030.

That also coincides with the time when iFlytek hopes to have fully implemented its Super Brain 2030 project, to equip every household with a robot that’s intelligent enough to serve people food and water and provide companionship — or so its vision claims.

iFlytek has staked this vision on the success of its own ChatGPT-like large language model (LLM).

The company released on May 6 the V1.0 version of its xinghuo renzhi model. Iterations came out in June and August.

The current edition, V2.0, is said to be able to rival many well-known foreign LLMs and ranked as No. 1 in a survey of domestically developed LLMs by an official think tank affiliated to Xinhua, the state news agency.

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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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