• 18 Jun, 2024

Chinese robotics developers hope to escape 'valley of uncanny'

Chinese robotics developers hope to escape 'valley of uncanny'

A disembodied female head mimicked the facial features of a nearby laptop user, enthralling and perplexing visitors to a conference for humanoid robot makers in China. Wide-eyed and crazy has placed this technology in the "valley of uncanny," but the field is getting more attention from investors and the Chinese government.

Outside the conference hall on Thursday, about 30 companies showed off bionic hands, glowing eyes and bipedal robots that can move around the room and regain their balance when pushed by witness

“I think the humanoid robot industry is on the rise… this show is not just a project. Most of them are physical and interactive.

Thousands gathered at the presentation by Fourier Intelligence, a company that claims to be the first in the world to mass-produce the GR-1 bipedal robot.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Fourier leaders during a visit to Shanghai in December, and the government is focusing on new technologies such as robotics. Fourier told the South China Morning Post that Xi questioned the robot's ability to communicate and perform basic tasks.

Beijing is not the only interested party. "It will be widely available in two or three years," said a well-known investor, referring to similar machines from other companies. He predicts that robots will primarily be used to care for the elderly, which is likely to be important as China's population and care options shrink.

In booths with and without body heads, the team aims to make unmanned robots like the GR-1 more human-like. "We hope they will enter the domestic industry," said Zhu Yongtong of the DROID Shanghai robot group.

Other companies are trying to create humanoid robots, equipping them with glasses that display artificial-smile faces. "As a parent, you can put your own digital avatar into this robot as a display, so that human-machine conversations with your children will be more enjoyable," said Ennio Zhang, director of marketing. and purchase at GravityXR.

The atmosphere of the meeting is positive and the focus is on progress. "I think China's humanoid robots have grown to a very advanced position and can compete with other manufacturers in the world."

"Right now there are a lot of bots that are 'jumping', the bots look the same, but as we collect data… the bots get bigger and bigger," Jiang added.