Leju releases first full-size HarmonyOS-driven humanoid robot KUAVO

As he sees it, Leju plans to monetize KUAVO in three steps. In the first phase, it looks to sell in small batches mainly to corporate-oriented clients in research and education.

Leju Robot (乐聚机器人), a Shenzhen-based general purpose robot developer, yesterday launched its first-ever full-size humanoid robot model that leverages Huawei’s HarmonyOS.

The robot, named KUAVO, is a humanoid biped that stands less than 1.5m tall and weighs in at 45kg, with 26 degrees of freedom across its form.

It can transcend complex terrains autonomously, jump up repeatedly and perform other challenging movements, the company said in a statement.

KUAVO is capable of walking at 4.6kph and jumping over 20cm above the ground, making it the country’s first HarmonyOS-powered humanoid model with this level of power, dexterity and agility, Leju claimed.

According to Chang Lin, founder and CEO of Leju Robot, with the growing maturity of supply chains and technologies, the costs of humanoids will continue to come down.

Plus, the advent of ChatGPT-like generative AI tools also promises to spur the cognitive intelligence of robotics, he noted.

This suggests that the commercialization of humanoid robotics is now approaching an inflection point, with potential for applications primarily in education, healthcare, logistics, and household service.

Three steps in monetization

As he sees it, Leju plans to monetize KUAVO in three steps. In the first phase, it looks to sell in small batches mainly to corporate-oriented clients in research and education.

“To have a certain degree of financial self-sufficiency is very important,” Chang said.

This process will be followed ideally by rising adoption of humanoid robots in specific scenarios, thanks to technical iterations, improving product quality and lower costs.

Scenarios include factory production, healthcare and specialized-purpose industries, where robots can replace humans in dangerous occupations.

After the penetration of humanoid robots reaches a height in the corporate community, companies like Leju will have acquired enough expertise, supply chain strengths and industrial know-how to branch out into the consumer market segment, Chang was quoted as saying in a Chinese media report.

Meanwhile, their building costs are also expected to decline into the region of between 10,000 yuan (US$1,396) and 100,000 yuan, significantly lowering the threshold for mass deployment in consumer markets, according to Chang.

He added that at this point, humanoid robots will enter home scenarios in droves, providing care, companionship and health service to households.

Major hurdles

Despite the rosy market prospects of humanoid robots, several major hurdles remain to hold back the aspirations of entrepreneurs like Chang.

He conceded that robot developers need to tackle several issues to quicken the prototype-to-product, lab-to-market process.

He cited high costs of core parts like servo and joint motors, a bottleneck in motion control technologies, complex structures of humanoid robot, an immature robot operating system (ROS), among others.

Leju has received pre-orders for dozens of its KUAVO, mainly placed by clients from the education, research and specialized operation backgrounds. Deliveries are set to begin before the end of this year.

In the field of education, for instance, the company has started to partner with colleges and research institutes including Harbin Institute of Technology, Suzhou University, Shandong University and Beijing Institute for General Artificial Intelligence.

KUAVO isn’t Leju’s first attempt at developing robots based on the open-source HarmonyOS. The builder of a line-up of desktop robots teamed up with Kaihong (深开鸿), a software developer, to launch a similar humanoid robot but on a reduced scale on November 17.

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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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