China unveils bold plan to mass-produce humanoid robots by 2025

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The blueprint claims that the humanoid robots would be as “disruptive” as smartphones and would “reshape the world.”

China has announced a grand vision to create and mass-produce humanoid robots that can perform various tasks and interact with humans.

The country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) published a blueprint document last week, stating that the humanoid robots would be as “disruptive” as smartphones and would “reshape the world.”

According to the MIIT, the humanoid robots would reach an “advanced level” by 2025 and would be mass-produced by then. The ministry outlined its development goals in its roadmap, which also sparked a surge in the shares of Chinese robotics companies.

The move is part of China’s efforts to compete with the US in the field of chips and hardware, where US companies such as Tesla and Boston Dynamics have been leading the way.

China, which is the world’s largest electronics manufacturer, aims to achieve breakthroughs in environment sensing, motion control and machine-to-human interaction capabilities in the next two years.

The government also supports the use of artificial intelligence in robotics and calls for more research into the development of dexterous robot hands, arms and feet.

Why it matters: Humanoid robots incorporate advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence, high-end manufacturing, and new materials.

With the potential to be a new competitive frontier in future industries, the government plans to promote innovation in key technologies by strengthening policies and mobilizing resources, given that China’s humanoid robot industry is in its budding phase.

Details: According to the guidelines, China expects to have a domestic ecosystem for humanoid robots established by 2025. By that time, robotic products are likely to be in mass production, fast catching up with international contenders.

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The ministry’s guidelines outline ambitious goals. By 2025, the country aims to nurture two to three world-beating companies, establish a cluster of specialized small- and medium-sized enterprises, and create two to three industrial development hubs.

By 2027, China is expected to establish a reliable industrial supply chain, with products from this sector seamlessly integrated into the real economy, as stated in the guidelines.

The guidelines propose promoting artificial intelligence technologies with a focus on breakthroughs in key areas such as the “brain”, “cerebellum” and “limbs.” The “brain” encompasses core technologies of humanoid robots based on large

AI models, while the “cerebellum” involves the robot’s environmental perception, behavior control, and human-machine interactive abilities. The “limbs” refers to humanoid mechanical arms, hands, legs, and feet.

The emphasis is on addressing key technologies, including lightweight skeletons, high-strength body structures, and high-precision sensors.

The guidance also outlines measures for expanding the application of humanoid robots in specific areas, including electronics, automotive, healthcare, services, agriculture, logistics, and even specialized industrial environments where humans currently undertake dangerous tasks in harsh conditions.

“They are expected to become disruptive products after computers, smartphones, and new energy vehicles,” a translation of the document added.

Per Bloomberg, the document was “short on details but big on ambition.” However, some Chinese companies are seemingly helping to tackle the country’s ambition in earnest.

For example, Chinese startup Fourier Intelligence said it would start mass producing its GR-1 humanoid robot by the end of this year, South China Morning Post reported.

The Shanghai-based company told the publication it aspires to deliver thousands of robots in 2024 that can move at five kilometers an hour and carry 50 kilograms.

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It’s not the only humanoid robot-maker that’s ramping up its efforts with the goal of mass production. US-based Agility Robotics is opening a robot factory in Oregon later this year, where it plans to build hundreds of its bipedal robots that can mimic human movements like walking, crouching, and carrying packages.

E-commerce giant Amazon is testing Agility Robotics’ Digit robot at a research and development center near Seattle to see how it can be used to automate its warehouses, but it’s only in the pilot phase.

Agility Robotics CEO Damion Shelton told Insider: “In the near term, we expect a slow and steady uptick of Digit deployments.” He added: “We believe mass integration will eventually occur, but bipedal robots are still a relatively new advancement.”

Even Tesla is developing its own humanoid robots called Optimus, or Tesla Bot, as Elon Musk revealed in 2021. However, it still has a long way to go before it’s ready for mass production as Musk said at a Tesla AI Day event in 2022 that it was the first time the prototype had walked “without any support” when it walked onto the stage.

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