PKU sets up joint lab with humanoid robot maker Agibot to tap Embodied AI

This is the first known partnership the Shanghai-based robotic startup has entered into with an academic institution since its inception in 2023.

Agibot (智元机器人), a fast-growing Chinese general-purpose robot developer, announced today that it had established a joint research lab with Peking University (PKU), one of China’s top universities.

Peng Zhihui, aka “Zhi Hui Jun,” an ex-Huawei engineer and tech prodigy, was among a number of dignitaries who were present at the ceremony to unveil a plaque marking the founding of the joint research lab.

This is the first known partnership the Shanghai-based robotic startup has entered into with an academic institution since its inception in 2023.

Although neither side disclosed the exact forms of their cooperation in any public material seen by cnrobopedia, it is widely believed that Agibot will supply its humanoid robot models to PKU researchers at the School of Computer Science.

For their part, they are expected to build on these open-source platforms to conduct reinforced learning, test algorithms and craft new applications.

Peking University consistently values the research and exploration in the field of computer science and AI, said Hu Zhenjiang, the Dean of PKU’s School of Computer Science.

He added that Embodied AI and robotics have become an important trend shaping the future, and that his school will provide the joint lab — named PKU-Agibot Joint Lab — with “strong” research support to spur its growth.

Emphasis on college-enterprise collaboration

Peng, the co-founder of Agibot who joined the firm late last year, said the startup had acquired cutting-edge tech expertise in decision-making model, task planning, environmental perception, general-purpose utility like grasping and other aspects related to humanoid robotics.

He credited the company’s tech team, shareholders and top universities for its accomplishments.

“Agibot places a very high emphasis on college-enterprise collaboration,” Peng said. “It will work closely with Peking University to realize commercialization of R&D results as well as foster the growth and iteration of Embodied AI and general-purpose robotics.”

The company has been in the media spotlight since mid-2023. Its introduction of its first-generation humanoid biped A1 was greeted with much fanfare, followed by multiple fundraisers.

The latest raise, which took place on December 18, raked in some 600 million yuan (US$84.12 million) and put the company one breath away from attaining the unicorn status.

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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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