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WTF?! China continues to express ambitions to be a global leader in several tech industries, despite the increasing export sanctions introduced by the US. The latest of these is advanced humanoid robots, which it believes will be mass-produced in the country as soon as 2025.
The plan to create the robots was set out in a blueprint document published last week by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). The government wants to aid more fledgling companies in the field, set industry standards, develop talent and deepen international cooperation, reports Bloomberg, with the goal of reaching advanced-level humanoid robots and mass-producing them by 2025.
The document says that the robots are expected to become as disruptive as computers, smartphones, and the latest energy vehicles (EVs, presumably), though it's noted that there's plenty of ambitious words with few actual details about how this will happen.
The ministry also said that China is targeting breakthroughs in environment sensing, motion control and machine-to-human interaction capabilities in the next two years.
The document might be limited to talk of goals and targets, but it still caused shares of Chinese robotics companies to surge. And the plan isn't as unlikely as it sounds: Chinese startup Fourier Intelligence unveiled its humanoid robot GR-1 (below) at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai in July.
According to the South China Morning Post, GR-1 is said to be capable of walking on two legs at a speed of 5kmh (3.1 mph) an hour while carrying a 50kg (110 pounds) load. Fourier Intelligence says it plans to begin mass production by the end of 2023 and deliver thousands of units next year. The startup also hopes to collaborate with major AI companies to provide the bipedal machine with its "brains," which sounds worryingly like we're getting into Detroit: Become Human and I, Robot territory. China's government said it is encouraging the use of artificial intelligence in robots, too.
Last month saw Amazon introduce its most humanoid robot to its warehouses: Digit, a 5-foot 9-inch 143-pound robot from Agility Robotics. The two-legged machine can walk forward, backward, and sideways, squat and bend, and move, grasp, and handle items using its arm/hand-like clasps.
At the start of the year, an independent think tank claimed China was ahead of the US when it comes to research in 37 out of 44 crucial and emerging technologies, including AI, robotics, defense, and key quantum tech areas.