Bionic Robots Rise: Emerging Consumer Demand Stimulates Industrial Upgrading, Commercialization of Service Robots Accelerates

foreword

A few days ago, a video of a mechanical dog walking on the street with its owner was trending on Weibo, and consumer-grade bionic robots have further entered the public eye.

An e-commerce platform shows that the price of consumer-grade mechanical dogs generally ranges from ten thousand yuan to several hundred thousand yuan, and the battery life is generally 40 minutes to 2 hours. Its functions range from companionship, weight bearing to automatic follow-up, and the flexible and adaptive joint design enables it to simulate ordinary puppy movements.

This is only a microcosm of my country’s robots, especially the consumer-grade robot industry, which has attracted much attention. The “China Robot Industry Development Report (2022)” shows that my country’s robot market has grown at a dazzling rate. It is expected that the market size will reach 17.4 billion US dollars this year, with an average annual growth rate of 22% in five years. In life, the application of robots in education, medical rehabilitation, emergency rescue and other fields has been continuously expanded, and the intelligent era of human-machine integration has begun.

Relevant persons in charge of a number of robot companies said that at present, robots are showing trends such as high bionics and strong interaction, and the market prospects in education, service, industry and other fields are becoming more and more broad. The upgrade of artificial intelligence technology and the overlay of cultural IP are making machines gradually get rid of the cold “stereotype” and further fly into the homes of ordinary people.

Emerging consumer demand stimulates robot evolution

In the future, with the development of artificial intelligence technology, in interactive scenarios such as parenting and elderly care, bionic robots will play the same companionship attributes as pet cats and dogs. In particular, the increasingly aging reality superimposes the typical “4-2-1” Chinese family structure. Emerging consumer demand stimulates the continuous evolution of robots, and bionic companion robots that can provide emotional communication will usher in a huge consumer market.

Relevant data shows that in the proportion of user attention distribution of robot products, companion robot ranks first, and its user attention is as high as 32.2%.

For example, Shenzhen Elephant Robot has successively launched two pet robots, MarsCat and metaCat, which can independently complete sitting, running, beckoning, stretching, as well as the cat’s iconic rubbing face and burying in cat litter. The user brings a more realistic experience.

“The action characteristics of bionic robots endow them with unique affinity. The domestic consumer robot market is developing towards higher automation, higher intelligence, and more realistic bionics. In the future, robots will be closer to real creatures.” Shenzhen Small Liu Hui, CEO of Digeek Technology Co., Ltd.

According to Hu Xingchen, director of the Marketing Department of Shenzhen Huaner Technology Co., Ltd., there are three main scenarios of service robots that have successfully landed at present—sweeping robots, food delivery robots, and weeding robots, but they are all in the form of small cars, not bionics. robot.

In contrast, educational robots have maintained steady progress. In recent years, with the support of relevant policies, the artificial intelligence profession has continued to heat up, and the research and teaching needs of scientific research and educational institutions have increased accordingly, further leveraging the market for bionic robots in science and education.

At present, education has become a major application scenario of bionic robots. Liu Hui told the reporter of Southern Finance and Economics that the sales volume of Xiao R technology educational bionic robots accounted for more than 50% of its total sales volume, with an annual shipment of more than 10,000 units, and the main customers covered primary and secondary schools to universities.

Aiming at the educational robot market segment, Magic Technology has achieved rapid development in less than ten years since its establishment. It has established cooperative relationships with more than 3,000 schools around the world. It has launched four-legged, six-legged, bipedal and other bionic robots. Products are sold to more than 80 countries and regions, covering more than 1 million users.

According to Hu Xingchen, the functions of the products in the start-up stage are relatively simple, and the product form is more primitive; the second-generation products have added sensors, so that they have the property of spatial perception; in recent years, with the application of cameras, radars, etc., new products are gradually able to detect objects 3D information, and can perform tasks such as space mapping, positioning, and navigation.

With the compression of China’s demographic dividend, labor shortages will become a medium- and long-term dilemma, and automation has become the general trend. Therefore, the application of bionic robots in the industrial field will gain more space.

Hu Xingchen told a reporter from Southern Finance and Economics, “Taking labor-intensive industries such as parts manufacturing as an example, the best automated visual inspection machines in the industry can detect about 150,000 parts per day, while the normal daily inspection volume of manual labor is about 100,000. Around 20,000-30,000. In this way, a piece of equipment can have more than 3-5 employees, and the cost can be recovered in less than a year of investment.”

It is a trend to promote two-way interaction between human and machine

Robots are known as “the pearl at the top of the manufacturing crown”, and are often regarded by countries as an important symbol for measuring the level of national innovation and high-end manufacturing. Among all robots, the research and development of humanoid robots is the most difficult, and humanoid robots are known as the ultimate form of AI.

A spokesman for Lesen Robotics said that humanoid robots are more able to adapt to a home environment tailored for humans and take on more work in such an environment. But from “standing on all fours” to “growing up”, the first thing that needs to be broken is the technical barrier.

Hu Xingchen analyzed that the fewer feet the robot has, the higher the difficulty. The biggest difficulty of humanoid robots lies in motion control, maintaining balance while achieving bipedal walking, which involves a series of complex processes such as perception, positioning, and real-time decision-making.

In 2021, Lesen Robotics will launch the world’s first fully automatic Transformers robot “Optimus Prime Edition”. The 48cm-high robot contains more than 5,000 parts, 27 high-precision intelligent artificial joints, and 60 chips. This product has been developed for twelve years. It is the embodiment of the integration of motor, drive and control system, chip, algorithm, deformation structure, Internet and other technologies. It has functions such as human and vehicle deformation, free walking, custom body movements and sound effects.

In addition to technology, humanoid robots need to be further implanted with cultural cores. “For Le Sen, technology and IP have formed a mutual promotion effect, and the two are indispensable.” Through cooperation with many world-renowned entertainment groups such as Hasbro and Disney, Le Sen Robotics will transform popular characters such as Transformers. Moving out of the screen fits the childhood feelings of many consumers.

“Technology can enable IP-based robots to achieve high-reduction, high-movement, multi-sensory interaction and other playability, and allow users to further feel the entertainment value behind the product.” Lesen spokesman told Southern Finance All Media reporters, Lesen Robotics The self-transforming robot “Optimus Prime” released in April 2021 achieved a burst of orders within two weeks of its launch; the products were sold to North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific regions.

However, it is worth noting that there are still two obstacles to promoting robot products further into the market. At the conceptual level, everyone’s cognition of robots has not yet been unified. Sweeping robots, smartphones, computers, etc. are all considered robots in a broad sense, resulting in cognitive bias.

On the other hand, the current robot products have achieved three of them – vision, touch, and hearing. In order to further enhance the user’s interactive experience, related technologies still need to be broken through. The value output brought by strong interaction can change the cold characteristics of the machine and promote the user to establish an emotional connection with it.

“The transition from one-way interaction to two-way interaction, from ‘human playing with machine’ to ‘human-machine mutual teasing’, is the entertainment and intelligent development trend of consumer-level robotics products in the future,” said a spokesman for Lesen Robotics.

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Article source: China Robot Network

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