UBTech leads Honda, Sony and Toyota in humanoid robot patents, study finds

The company, which is pursuing a listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, said it sinks over 50% of its annual revenue into R&D efforts.

UBTech (优必选科技), a leading humanoid robot developer, ranked first in the number of patents for inventions related to humanoid robots, according to a study by the research arm of people.com.cn, the online version of Communist mouthpiece People’s Daily.

According to the report published on November 27, entitled Analysis on Technological Patents of Humanoid Robot, Shenzhen-headquartered UBTech boasts a total of 763 patents in the field of humanoid, ahead of former frontrunners Honda, Sony and Toyota.

However, Honda, the producer of Asimo, one of the first humanoid robot models the world has ever seen, has 659 patents in force, topping the ranking, with UBTech placed second with 476.

Patents in force refer to those that are still valid at the time of data collection.

Founded in 2012, UBTech has begun to file patent applications the following year. The company’s number of patents in humanoid robotics grew rapidly after it had begun to work on the first model Walker in 2016.

Walk came out in 2018, followed by its updated version that made its debut a year later and the introduction of Walker X in 2021.

During the intervening period, UBTech has experienced a spike in the number of patent applications and patent grants.

To date it has filed over 3,000 patent applications and obtained 1,750 patent grants worldwide.

Nonetheless, the People’s Daily survey did not explain the discrepancy between the number of UBTech’s patents in force and patent applications or grants.

The company, which is pursuing a listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, said it sinks over 50% of its annual revenue into R&D efforts.

Although humanoid robotics has been one of the most-watched tech sectors across the globe, companies are still struggling to figure out the most suitable application scenarios for their innovations.

For its part, UBTech said it focuses on three scenarios, including industrial production, commercial service and household companionship.

Its Walker series has been adopted at some shopping malls as voice guides and in sporting events to perform choreographed dances in front of global viewers.

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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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