China has been making significant strides in developing humanoid robots to address its labor shortage and assist with its growing elderly population. Fourier Intelligence, a Chinese company, recently unveiled what is being hailed as the world’s first mass-produced humanoid robot. This achievement comes on the heels of Huawei’s development of a humanoid bot last year. While the focus in the tech world has largely been on artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT, China has been dedicated to advancing the field of robotics.
According to Euronews, the number of Chinese people over the age of 60 is projected to rise from 280 million to over 400 million by 2035. In response to this rapidly aging population, Fourier Intelligence and other Chinese firms are working on developing humanoid robots for use in healthcare facilities. The GR-1 prototype, which can walk on two legs at a speed of 5km per hour while carrying a 50kg load, was unveiled by Fourier Intelligence at the recent World Artificial Intelligence Conference held in Shanghai. The company has previously focused on creating devices such as a smart exercise bike, a wireless robotic glove, and computer-guided machines that assist with limb movement. However, founder Alex Gu expressed his long-held dream of creating a humanoid robot, even as most Chinese companies focused on four-legged robots. Gu noted that many of the technologies used in rehabilitation robots are applicable to humanoid robots, and explained that the development of powerful yet lightweight motors was a key factor in their success.
The Chinese humanoid robot developed by Fourier Intelligence stands 1.64 meters tall and weighs 55kg. In addition to walking and avoiding obstacles, it is capable of performing tasks such as holding bottles. Co-founder Zen Koh envisions a future where the robot can serve as a caregiver, therapy assistant, or companion for the elderly who live alone. He emphasized the versatility of the robot, stating that it can be programmed to sit, stand, jump, and use its arms to manipulate utensils and tools.
While the Chinese humanoid robot is certainly a remarkable achievement, there are many similar projects currently under development. Xiaomi, another Chinese company, unveiled its own humanoid robot named CyberOne last year. However, this robot is limited in its capabilities and can primarily only walk. In a different approach to robotics, researchers from the University of Tokyo have been exploring the attachment of robotic limbs to humans. They created cyborg arms known as Jizai Arms, which were attached to a backpack-like power system and mimicked human limbs and fingers. By studying the attachment and detachment of these arms, the researchers aimed to gain insights into how people develop a sense of ownership for artificial body parts.
In conclusion, China’s efforts to develop humanoid robots to address labor shortages and provide care for its aging population have been successful. Fourier Intelligence’s recent unveiling of the world’s first mass-produced humanoid robot is a significant milestone in this field. The development of humanoid robots is happening alongside other groundbreaking advancements in technology, such as laser weapons and artificial intelligence. As more companies and countries continue to push the boundaries of what is possible, the future of robotics and AI-powered machines looks promising.