Web tool supplier Cheetah Mobile buys stake in robot arm, eyeing AI future

The firm looks to further embrace the advent of artificial general intelligence (AGI) by deploying its AI capabilities to upgrade physical technologies like robotics.

Cheetah Mobile (猎豹移动), a supplier of internet tools and apps, yesterday announced that it had purchased a 35.17% stake in Orion Star (猎户星空), a subsidiary focusing on commercial robot, to become its controlling shareholder.

The Beijing-based company said it bought the stake for US$37.6 million, boosting its equity holdings in the robot startup to 72.91%.

Orion Star was founded in 2016 by Fu Sheng, who is also the founder, chairman and CEO of US-listed Cheetah Mobile.

Explaining the reasons behind the share sale, Fu said Cheetah Mobile will leverage the AI expertise accumulated by Orion Star over the course of its operation.

The goal is to build a business chain covering a large language model to application scenarios, he said.

Cheetah Mobile started out as a provider of web browers in the PC era, before venturing into a marketplace for mobile internet tools.

The firm looks to further embrace the advent of artificial general intelligence (AGI) by deploying its AI capabilities to upgrade physical technologies like robotics.

In the words of Fu, the ultimate target is to achieve a leapfrog-style shift toward AI-Native application.

Orion Star is reportedly working on its own LLM to make a suite of commercial service robots more intelligent.

Currently, Orion Star manufactures and deploys primarily service robots for voice guide, concierge and delivery, among other use cases.

It is believed that the blend of robots and generative AI will enable robots to better communicate with humans and perform tasks autonomously, fueling another multi-billion-dollar market after smartphone and electric vehicle.

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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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