Technological achievements emerge one after another, and application scenarios continue to expand

The humanoid robot "pace" accelerated

As the culmination of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, high-end manufacturing, and new materials, humanoid robots have always been the protagonists of many science fiction movies, carrying mankind's vision for the future world of science and technology. Recently, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the "Guiding Opinions on the Innovation and Development of Humanoid Robots", proposing a series of development goals. According to the opinion, by 2025, China's humanoid robot innovation system will be initially established, a number of key technologies such as "brain, cerebellum, limb" have made breakthroughs, and the whole machine products have reached the international advanced level and achieved mass production.

At present, the evolution of humanoid robot technology is accelerating, and it has become a new highland of scientific and technological competition, a new track for future industries, and a new engine for economic development. In recent years, domestic humanoid robots have grown from scratch, technological achievements have emerged in an endless stream, application scenarios have been expanded, and the localization process of core components has been accelerated, gradually moving towards a more advanced and intelligent direction.

More technical achievements are released

Not only are the "limbs" developed, but they can also perceive human semantics

Humanoid robots refer to robots designed and manufactured to imitate human forms and behaviors. In the robot industry, which enjoys the title of "the pearl at the top of the manufacturing crown", humanoid robots have become the "pearl of pearls" because of their complex structural components and ultra-high technical difficulty. China started late in the field of humanoid robots, but the development speed is very rapid. At the 8 World Robot Conference held in August this year, many domestic humanoid robots made a stunning appearance. According to industry insiders, this is the most complete and largest robot conference in recent years.

When it comes to domestic humanoid robots, many people can hardly forget the scene at the closing ceremony of this year's Chengdu Universiade: a large humanoid robot skillfully rode a balance bike to enter quickly, waving its arms with the music with the actors on the stage; Subsequently, several panda robots with "human bodies" but a "panda head" appeared elegantly on the stage, bringing wonderful performances to the audience. These robots are all independently developed by Chinese enterprises, including many of the top technologies in Chinese's artificial intelligence and intelligent humanoid robot industry.

In recent years, many enterprise players have emerged in the domestic humanoid robot track, and Hangzhou Unitree Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "Unitree Technology"), a national-level key specialized and new "little giant" enterprise located in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, is one of them. This year, the company released the company's first general-purpose humanoid robot, the Unitree H1. This guy who is pitch black, 47.<> meters tall and weighs <>kg, walks at a pace comparable to that of an adult. But more importantly, it can run in small steps, and it is the first full-size general-purpose humanoid robot in China that can run.

Unitree itself is an enterprise mainly engaged in the R&D and manufacturing of quadruped robots. At the 19th Asian Games this year, the "Asian Games Robot Dog" developed by Unitree Technology successfully attracted the attention of many audiences as soon as it appeared on the field. In the competition, it conscientiously undertook the work of "field affairs", highlighting the scientific and technological style of this Asian Games.

From a four-legged "robot dog" to a humanoid robot, this breakthrough is the result of Unitree's years of deep cultivation and continuous innovation in the field of robotics. In line with the idea of mastering the core technology in its own hands, Unitree Technology has now realized the complete independent research and development of the core components of its quadruped robot products. According to the relevant person in charge of Unitree Technology, the humanoid robot Unitree H1 launched this time has followed or borrowed the company's previous technology accumulated in quadruped robots in important components such as joint motors, electronic control systems, and control algorithms.

In addition to Unitree Technology, Xiaomi Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "Xiaomi"), which has been focusing on the R&D and production of smart devices, also released the first "full-size humanoid bionic robot" CyberOne, also known as "Tieda", last year. With a height of 1.77 meters, Tie Da has strong limbs and sensitive nerves: it can sense 45 kinds of human semantic emotions and distinguish 85 kinds of environmental semantics. Under the hard training of R&D personnel, "Tieda" even learned to play drums.

Xiaomi has been exploring humanoid robots since 2020, and has built a robot research and development system of hundreds of people in the past three years. Talking about the reason for getting involved in the field of humanoid robots, Zeng Xuezhong, senior vice president of Xiaomi Group, said that humanoid robots are the intersection of technology, manufacturing, and service, and the commanding heights of the integration of software and hardware and artificial intelligence technology. A senior hardware engineer at the Xiaomi Robotics Lab believes that among all the robot forms, humanoid robots are the most technically challenging. Through research into humanoid robots, Xiaomi can also use this technology to solve problems in other forms of robots.

In addition to related enterprises, there are not a few humanoid robots launched by scientific research institutes in recent years: the humanoid robot "Wukong" of Zhejiang University, the "Huitong" robot of Beijing Institute of Technology, and the "Pioneer" robot of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences... Many achievements demonstrate China's active exploration and technological progress in the field of robotics.

More application scenarios are implemented

It is not only a good helper for industrial production, but also a new employee in the service industry

Wang Jin, assistant dean of the Institute of Robotics at Zhejiang University, said that the original intention of creating humanoid robots was to let them help humans complete repetitive, boring and dangerous work. In recent years, some humanoid robots or partial humanoid robots have gradually entered daily life from the laboratory and are used in intelligent manufacturing, commercial services and other fields.

Yongkang City, Zhejiang Province is an important cup and pot manufacturing place in China, with about 6 million thermos cups and pots produced from here and sold all over the world every year. In recent years, robots have been widely used in the process of quality inspection and testing, flexible production and handling of special-shaped products in thermos cups, so that the production efficiency and product quality of the industry have been improved.

For vacuum cups, "dripping" is an important quality issue. In the past, the detection of "dripping" problem relied on manual detection, but now, in the local thermos cup production workshop, the robot stretches out its arm and can "suck" the thermos cup on the production line through the suction cup on the palm, and can detect whether a thermos cup has a drip problem in an average of 5 seconds.

According to the manufacturer of the robot, "If there is a small damage in the thermos cup, it is difficult to detect it by manual alone, because it is impossible for workers to pour water into each thermos cup for testing. Finally, we came up with the idea of detecting a drip by detecting air pressure, and designed a robot with a 'suction cup hand'. If the thermos cup is damaged, the robot palm cannot reach the set air pressure when sucking the product, and it will not be able to absorb successfully. At the same time, the 'suction cup hand' also simulates the human body and is designed flexibly to avoid the metal material 'scratching' the cup. ”

In addition to the application in the industrial field, the application of humanoid robots in the service field is also gradually increasing. At the Xiaoshan Robot Expo Center in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, a humanoid robot named "Xiao Luo" is quite popular. As the star receptionist here, it has an anthropomorphic design and body language, equipped with voice recognition technology and emotion recognition technology, which can smoothly engage in conversations with visitors and provide personalized suggestions based on visitors' questions. In addition to serving as a receptionist in the exhibition hall, the versatile "Xiao Luo" can also "serve" in ceremonies, large-scale exhibitions, weddings and other occasions to host or perform programs for everyone.

It is said that human beings are the most exquisite works of nature, just as humans can be competent for many different jobs and perform various complex movements, in fact, compared with traditional robot equipment such as quadruped robots and robotic arms, humanoid robots have stronger versatility. A humanoid robot can replace a variety of single-function equipment, and can also be applied to a variety of production and life scenarios.

During the 19th Asian Games held this year, the humanoid bionic robot "Xiaole" played the official theme song of the Hangzhou Asian Games "Together with Love" on the piano. According to the R&D team of "Xiaole", the development of "Xiaole" to play the piano is not to enter the field of music, but to develop a high-performance dual-arm robot system that can simulate human speed, strength and emotion, and use this technology to drive the development of related industries. At present, a number of enterprises and restaurants have purchased and leased "Xiaole" to develop new vocational skills of "Xiaole".

Relevant experts said that with the promotion of artificial intelligence technology by large language models, coupled with the increasingly strong technical reserves on robot operation and control algorithms driven by big data and high computing power, it is worth looking forward to the rapid progress of humanoid robots to the application stage. The "Guiding Opinions on the Innovation and Development of Humanoid Robots" released this year also put forward opinions and measures from three directions: special fields, typical scenarios of manufacturing, people's livelihood and key industries: first, accelerate the application of humanoid robots in special environments; the second is to focus on key areas of manufacturing such as 3C and automobiles, and build humanoid robot demonstration production lines and factories; The third is to expand the service application of humanoid robots in the fields of medical care, housekeeping and other livelihood fields.

More innovative companies are emerging

From being controlled everywhere to breaking foreign monopolies

At the beginning of this month, Beijing Humanoid Robot Innovation Center Co., Ltd. was officially registered in the Robot Innovation Industrial Park of Beijing Economic Development Zone, marking the establishment of the first provincial humanoid robot innovation center in China. Relevant information shows that the innovation center will carry out five key tasks, such as the prototype of the general humanoid robot and the general large model of the humanoid robot.

As an international science and technology innovation center, Beijing occupies a full-chain advantage in the field of humanoid robots, from theoretical technology to product research and development, to landing application. In July this year, the Beijing Municipal Government issued the "Beijing Robot Industry Innovation and Development Action Plan (7-2023)", proposing that by 2025, the city's robot industry innovation ability will be greatly improved, cultivating 2025 kinds of high-tech and high value-added robot products, 100 kinds of application scenarios with national promotion value, and the number of robots owned by 100,<> people has reached the world's leading level.

The achievements and application scenarios of humanoid robots in China are becoming more and more abundant, which are inseparable from the rapid development of the domestic robot industry. In recent years, domestic robot-related research and development institutions, enterprises and industrial parks continue to emerge, according to incomplete statistics, 10 years ago, China's local enterprises in the domestic robot market share of less than 5%, the number of enterprises is only hundreds. However, in the past 10 years, the number of registered domestic robot-related enterprises has increased year by year, and the robot industry has basically formed a whole industry chain system from parts, complete machines to integrated applications.

It is worth mentioning that on the humanoid robot track, the core components play a vital role. In the past, China has long relied on foreign imports for the core components of robots, and is controlled by others everywhere. But now, many domestic enterprises have broken through the technical restrictions, breaking the monopoly of foreign brands in this field, and China is gradually realizing localization in the core components of robots.

The reducer is known as "one of the three core components of the robot", its function is somewhat similar to the joints of human beings, and it is an important support for the robot to make various actions, and it is in the upstream of the robot industry chain. In Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province, there is an innovative enterprise in the field of reducer - Suzhou Green Harmonic Transmission Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "Green Harmonic"). Founded in 2011, with continuous R&D investment and technical research, the company took the lead in achieving a technological breakthrough in precision harmonic reducer in China, so that this precision parts have a domestic alternative, at present, the company's related technology in this field has reached the international leading level, and its product sales rank second in the world.

From "following" to "leading", this is the development trajectory of green harmonic in the field of harmonic reducer, and it is also the development trajectory of the domestic robot industry. Chu Jianhua, chief technology officer of Green Harmonics, said: "In the past few years, we mainly pursued foreign products, at least we did not lose to others. But in recent years, we have to surpass foreign countries and play a leading role in the industry. ”

In recent years, more and more core component enterprises have emerged in China's robot industry, many of which are national-level specialized and new small and medium-sized enterprises and "little giant" enterprises. According to the "China Robot Technology and Industry Development Report (2023)", at present, the overall development level of China's robot industry has been steadily improved, the application scenarios have been significantly expanded, the localization process of core components has been accelerated, the advantages of collaborative robots, logistics robots, special robots and other products have been continuously enhanced, and a large number of innovative enterprises have emerged.

Author: Reporter Wang Yajing