Quadruped ace Unitree ventures into humanoid biped with launch of H1

H1 appears to be able to withstand external forces and retain its balance even though it sustains a hard kick in the hip or waist.

Unitree (宇树科技), a domestic developer of quadrupeds, has followed a handful of tech powerhouses and startups into uncharted waters by launching its own humanoid robot H1.

The Hangzhou-headquartered firm yesterday released pictures, video and specs of H1 in a long-form infographic article published in its official WeChat account.

All photos courtesy of Unitree

According to the article, H1 stands 180.5 cm tall with the head (28.5 cm) and weighs in at 47 kg.

It can walk briskly at 1.5 m/s, albeit with bent knees, meaning that it has room for improvement in gait and posture adjustment.

H1 appears to be able to withstand external forces and retain its balance even though it sustains a hard kick in the hip or waist.

The robot derives its locomotion partly from Unitree’s self-developed M107 joint motors.

As a result, it possesses strong dynamics, upgraded motion agility, speed, payload and even battery life.

Unitree compares M107 joint motors with actuators used in Tesla’s Optimus, namely, Tesla-1 and Tesla-2, and the message seems to be that its technology is superior to Tesla’s in many respects.

Specifically, the M107 motor generates a maximum torque of 360N.m or 10,000 N, as opposed to Tesla-1’s 180N.m and Tesla-2’s 8,000 N.

By contrast, M107 weighs 1.9 kg, while Tesla-1 and Tesla-2 are 2.26 kg and 2.2 kg heavy.

Below 1 million yuan

An obviously missing part of H1 is a robot hand, which Unitree says it is working on to be mounted on its wrist.

Delivery of H1 is expected to begin sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.

Unitree boasts in the WeChat article that H1 carries a sticker price of below 1 million yuan (US$137,000), making it one of the world’s most cost-effective humanoids currently available.

Wang Xingxing, founder and CEO of Unitree, hailed H1’s birth as an “exciting moment and the beginning of a smart new era” in a WeChat Moments post.

Wang is a former DJI employee and founded Unitree in 2016, arguably one of the first Chinese firms to specialize in the manufacturing of legged robots.

Unitree recently made headlines with the release of its Go2 robot dog, with upgraded motion control capabilities, such as standing upside down and moving sideways on one front and hind leg, among other feats.

Personal dream

Building bipeds has been the “next big thing” and also a personal dream for Wang over the last 13 years.

Wang traced this dream to the time when he put together a makeshift biped independently in his university dorm during the winter break in 2010.

“Many of the details then are still vivid today, and in the blink of an eye, 13 years have passed,” he reminisced in the WeChat post.

Wang thanked co-workers for their dedication and hard work, as they rolled out H1 within half a year.

In the next three to 10 years, Unitree seeks to complete the new industrial revolution with general-purpose robotics and AI, the WeChat article says toward the end.

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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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