NetEase (网易, Nasdaq: NTES, 09999.HK), one of China’s internet titans, recently set up a smart manufacturing unit dedicated to robotics in Beijing, marking another step for the firm to follow the lead of others into robotics.
The new subsidiary, Beijing Zhizao Youdao Technology Co. Ltd, is headed by Su Peng as its legal representative, and has a reported capital of 500,000 yuan (US$69,350), according to Tianyancha, a business registration information provider.
Its business scope consists of the sale of smart robot, household consumer gadgets, AI-powered hardware, wearable intelligent device, human resources services and international study brokerage service.
The affiliate is wholly owned by Youdao, an edtech arm of NetEase, a gaming and internet company.
However, NetEase has disclosed few details on what robotic products this startup plans to unveil in coming months, prompting speculations about its next moves.
Market watchers believe that the establishment of the new firm is yet another indicator of the large language model (LLM) frenzy spreading to the field of education.
Youdao launched on July 26 what it said is the country’s first self-developed LLM called Ziyue that is tailored to the education industry.
It also released six applications based on the model, including virtual oral English coach, LLM-powered translation, AI-driven composition instruction, grammer analysis, Q&A capabilities and AI Box.
Neither NetEase nor Chinese media explained what AI Box is and how it is employed.
With the growing role of AIGC in reshaping education, lots of China’s edtech firms have joined in the race to produce their own answer to ChatGPT.
Part of their motivation is to generate new revenue streams and create room for imagination about future development, observers say.
During the July 27 launch, Zhou Feng, CEO of NetEase Youdao, emphasized the importance of a scenario-driven business model multiple times.
“Whether a good technology has value or can play a massive role is often down to scenarios, applications and details,” he said then.
Zhou added that NetEase is now setting its sights on improving edtech products and services through a mix of software, hardware and AI technologies.
In addition to NetEase, TAL (好未来, NYSE: TAL), another major play on China’s edtech scene, also touted the role of LLM in redefining the future of educational technology.
In late July, the company announced that it was working on a proprietary model named MathGPT, with a focus on solving math problems and offering math-related tutorials.
Led by its CTO Tian Mi, the team tasked with this work revealed that they had made headway and the chatbot service and applications will come out by the end of this year.