Author: Jin Yezi

With the development of artificial intelligence technology, the robot industry, especially embodied robots, has developed rapidly.

Recently, Mobile ALOHA, a general-purpose robot that can stir-fry and do housework, developed by Google's DeepMind team and the Chinese team at Stanford University, has been swiped on social media. Unlike previous robots that were more used in the industrial sector, Mobile ALOHA integrates mobility and dexterity into two-handed movements, such as watering flowers, washing dishes, setting chairs, and even shaving.

On the morning of the 9th, the humanoid robot sector rose sharply, as of midday, Wind-related concepts rose more than 2%, Aishida harvested 3 boards, and Xinshida and Hongxun Technology both rose to the limit.

As an upgrade of robots from special to general scenarios, what are the development trends of the humanoid robot industry under the wave of AIGC?

The 100 billion dollar market is promising

As an important measurement indicator, the density of industrial robots represents the degree of automated production in a country or region, and is an important reference in the digital transformation of the economy. According to the data of the Chinese Institute of Electronics, the global robot market size increased from US$2012.2021 billion to US$107.429 billion in 16~7, with a compound annual growth rate of about <>.<>%, and the industry continued to grow.

Zhou Guangxing, general manager of the new Shida Robot Division, told Yicai that now domestic robot brands are more developed in the route of benchmarking imported robot brands, and more are what imported robot brands can do. In his opinion, in the next decade, the application scenarios of robots will be richer than now, and domestic robots will find some unique industries and applications, and with the development of sensors, vision and other technologies, there will be more and more application scenarios for robots. "In addition to the existing industrial robots, robots will be used in more fields including services and life. In addition, industrial robot control technology will be used in more and more products, and humanoid robots and service robots will become more and more mature. At that time, the proportion of industrial robot product categories in the market will also shrink, industrial robots will still maintain rapid growth, but other types of robots will grow more considerably. ”

Among them, humanoid robots refer to human-like robots that can be used in a variety of application scenarios. In addition to the above-mentioned Mobile ALOHA, the previously released humanoid robots include Tesla's Optimus, Boston Dynamics' Atlas, UBTECH's walker, Fourier GR-1, etc.

According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk's prediction, in the future, assuming that the ratio of humanoid robots to the population is 2:1, the demand for humanoid robots is expected to reach 100 billion ~ 200 billion units, and the demand for humanoid robots will even far exceed that of cars.

Goldman Sachs' analysis pointed out that in the next 10~15 years, the humanoid robot market space will reach at least 60 billion US dollars, and in the most ideal case, the humanoid robot market space is expected to reach 2035 billion US dollars in 1540.

China is also accelerating the development of industrial robots, especially humanoid robots. In October last year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the "Guiding Opinions on the Innovation and Development of Humanoid Robots", positioning humanoid robots as "integrating advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, high-end manufacturing, and new materials, and is expected to become a disruptive product after computers, smart phones, and new energy vehicles, which will profoundly change the production and lifestyle of human beings and reshape the global industrial development pattern." The opinion proposes that by 10, the humanoid robot innovation system will be initially established, and a number of key technologies such as "brain, cerebellum, and limbs" will make breakthroughs to ensure the safe and effective supply of core components. Cultivate 2025~2 ecological enterprises with global influence and a number of specialized, special and new small and medium-sized enterprises, and create 3~2 industrial development clusters.

Nian Zijun, a senior analyst of Omdia intelligent manufacturing, told Yicai that the development of industrial robots requires a certain "right time, place and people". In the past 20 years, China has gained long-term manufacturing experience not only in the automobile manufacturing industry, 3C manufacturing industry, but also in logistics, steel, medical care, and even the most prosperous new energy manufacturing industry. This industry experience has also accumulated the foundation of hardware technology and software services for industrial robots in various industries and fields. Especially after the epidemic, the upgrading of the manufacturing industry and smart factories have also provided a broad market environment for industrial robots.

In her opinion, Made in China 2025 has also laid the foundation for the development of industrial robots. From the perspective of the structure of industrial robots, the body shell has always been self-manufactured, but the core components, such as servo systems, sensors, controllers and reducers, have been monopolized by Japanese and European companies in the past few decades. With the development in recent years, by 2022, China has gradually realized partial domestic manufacturing of servo systems, controllers and sensors. However, there is still a certain gap between the reducer and Japanese companies.

The track is hot, but the challenge is not small

Whether it is UBTECH, the "first share of humanoid robots" recently listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, or Zhiyuan Robot, founded by Peng Zhihui, a "post-90s" technology blogger and former Huawei "genius boy", in recent years, the Chinese humanoid robot track has been hot.

On December 12 last year, UBTECH, the "first share of humanoid robots", was officially listed on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and at the listing ceremony, UBTECH's new generation of industrial humanoid robot Walker S made its debut, holding another gong and hammer to the center of the stage, and sounded the opening gong with Zhou Jian, chairman of the board of directors, executive director and chief executive officer of UBTECH.

Xiong Youjun, co-founder, chief technology officer and executive director of UBTECH, said in an interview with Yicai that in recent years, the humanoid robot industry has once again become a hot spot, thanks to the mature development of many technologies such as AI large models. The development of AI large models can make humanoid robots more intelligent, solve more real-world problems, make the interactive experience of humanoid robots more natural, make motion planning more convenient, and improve the research and development efficiency of humanoid robots.

In his view, after half a century of development, humanoid robots have reached the stage of industrialization, and their commercial application trends and landing scenarios have been more certain. "The humanoid robot is the best carrier of embodied intelligence, which changes the interaction mode of human-computer collaboration from passive interaction to active interaction and natural language interaction, so it will be the center of human-computer interaction of the next generation, and even become a 'smart terminal' in the real sense, which has great value in the long run. ”

The company, which was founded by Pang Chi-fai in March last year, was raised again at the end of last year. According to the data, Zhiyuan Robot has completed a new round of A3 round of financing, with investors from Lanchi Venture Capital, Zhongke Chuangxing, Hillhouse Venture Capital, Lingang New Area Fund, etc. At the press conference of Zhiyuan Robot Expedition A3, its team revealed that the commercialization of Expedition A1 will first be applied to the field of industrial intelligent manufacturing, and they are in contact with automobile companies and 1C manufacturers, and their goal is to control the target price of the product within 3,20 yuan. "We hope that the product can be commercialized in the second half of this year, and it will be used in the field of industrial manufacturing first. Peng Zhihui previously told Yicai.

Song Haitao, president of the Shanghai Institute of Artificial Intelligence and chairman of the General Robot Industry Research Institute, said in an interview with Yicai that 2024 is the first year towards general intelligent robots, and they are also accelerating the deep integration of general artificial intelligence (AGI) technology large model technology and robots. He revealed that he is currently building a professional corpus of smart factories and general intelligent robots in the field around key industries in Shanghai, and cultivating a large work GPT model of general intelligent robots. It is expected that by the end of this year, the first batch of general-purpose intelligent robots for the industrial manufacturing field may be applied in small batches.

Fourier, which was founded earlier, also launched the general-purpose robot GR-1 for the first time last year, and is already doing mass production in small batches. Because this robot has a highly bionic torso configuration, anthropomorphic motion control, combined with cognitive intelligence, it can cooperate with people to complete actions, and has great potential in multiple application scenarios such as industry, rehabilitation, home, and scientific research.

Gu Jie, chairman and CEO of Fourier Intelligence, previously told Yicai that although he wanted to make a general-purpose robot when he was a student, because the robot's movement ability, AI algorithm and market application conditions were not yet mature at the beginning of the company's establishment (2015), the first entry was in the field of rehabilitation robots, and it was not until 2019 that the general humanoid robot project was officially launched. "I hope that robots, like smart electric vehicles, will eventually enter homes and industries. ”

However, while embodied robots are seen by the industry as the best carrier for AGI, they also face some challenges.

At the 2023 World Robot Conference, Yao Qizhi, winner of the Turing Award and academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said when talking about the development of robots, the future AGI needs to have embodied entities that interact with the real physical world to complete various tasks, so as to bring real and greater value to the industry. "ChatGPT is mainly for language processing capabilities, and if you really want AGI to exert its power, you need to have an embodied entity in the future. ”

However, Yao also pointed out that there are four main challenges encountered by embodied robots: first, robots cannot have a basic large model like a large language model to directly achieve the lowest level of control, and second, the challenge of computing power, even if it is developed by Google Transformer model, to achieve robot control, there are still many things to be done from the actual required level of control; third, how to integrate all the multimodal sensory perception of robots, there are still many problems to be solved; fourth, the development of robots needs to collect a lot of data, which also faces many problems in terms of security and privacy.