Fourier Intelligence (傅利叶智能), a domestic leader in rehabilitation robotics, announced yesterday that it will unveil its first humanoid robot in July, joining a number of established firms and startups in a race to produce China’s human-shaped robots.
In a video clip posted on the company’s WeChat account, the medtech startup presents a full-sized, human-shaped robot atop its recently debuted MetaMotus™ Galileo platform.
A specific date has yet to be set for the launch, though.
The general-purpose robot, known as GR-1, is shown walking in small steps bipedally, capable of moving forward, backward and sideways in the footage.
It also can perform more complex movements such as bending at the knees, swiveling its head and waist, tilting its torso and standing on one leg.
In a WeChat post, Alex Gu Jie, founder and CEO of Fourier Intelligence, said the plan to produce a robot had been hatched “several years ago.”
“Humanoid robot was a ‘no-man’s land,’ involving enormous market and R&D risks,” said Gu, an alumnus of Shanghai Jiao Tong University who had dreamed of building the gizmo 20 years ago.
Convinced that “mankind needs this type of robotic partner,” he said Fourier Intelligence didn’t want to sit idly by as others are rushing to build theirs.
In China, a race is on to develop China’s answer to Atlas, the iconic humanoid robot from Boston Dynamics.
Following the launch of Xiaomi’s CyberOne last year, the domestic robotic industry has been abuzz with enthusiasm to jump on the humanoid robot bandwagon.
Tencent (腾讯科技), Dreame.Tech (追觅科技) and CloudMinds (达闼科技) are among dozens of firms that recently announced a bid to manufacture their variants of CyberOne or Optimus — thanks to huge advances in generative AI, which is said to make robots a lot smarter.
Elon Musk also has said something to the effect that humanoid robots will replace EVs to become the principal source of long-term value for Tesla at the company’s AI Day event this year.
He even predicted that human demand for human-shaped robots will reach 10 to 20 billion units, based on a robot-to-human ratio of 2:1.
Despite the hype, however, skepticism of humanoid robot remains high, mostly concerning its commercial prospects.
Critics often point to UBTech (优必选), a domestic pioneer in humanoid robots. The Shenzhen-based unicorn excited the market in January this year when it applied to list on the HKEX.
But its prospectus shows that it racked up a loss of 2.4 billion yuan (US$336 million) in three years, prompting concerns about the firm’s ability to turn a profit.