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Chinese Startup Unveils Striking Humanoid Robot, Joining Global AI Race

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

[Edited] Fourier Intelligence's sleek humanoid robot GR-1 captivates crowds at Shanghai tech conference, reminding world of China's prowess in bipedal robotics.

Fourier Intelligence’s GR-1 robot
Credits: Handout

The lanky, jet-black GR-1 instantly stole the show at July's World AI Conference, outshining even the AI software that has recently captured the world's attention.

Capable of walking at 5km/hr while carrying 50kg, the Chinese-made robot signals the potential of bipedal robots pursued by Tesla, Xiaomi and more.

For Fourier Intelligence, GR-1 marked a bold new frontier. "It is an unprecedented attempt by us – we barely had any reference when it came to the technology," said founder Alex Gu.

Originally focused on rehab devices, Fourier pivoted to humanoid robots in 2019 despite the immense technical barriers. But its rehab experience proved essential. "Many technologies used in rehabilitation robots are essentially applicable to humanoid robots," said Gu.

In 2022, after 3 years of work, engineers cheered as GR-1 first stood and walked untethered - like "raising a newborn."

Critics emerged but Gu is undeterred, drawing parallels to early electric vehicle scepticism. Beyond walking, future AI systems could enable logic and reasoning.

Fourier joins global players like Tesla, Xiaomi and Boston Dynamics pursuing humanoid robots, despite the challenges. The high costs and limited capabilities have confined most projects to labs.

But Gu shares Elon Musk's vision of helping humans via robots. He foresees GR-1's potential in elderly care, education and hospitality.

Mass production starts late 2023, with thousands of units expected in 2024. But Gu cautions it will take years before humanoids reach households.

"Don’t expect a miracle to come out in a year or so – even for Tesla, we have to give them time [to achieve mass production of humanoid robots], But also, don’t underestimate the possibility that this thing may become part of people’s family lives in five or 10 years." he said.

Humanoid robots represent a daring frontier. Fourier's GR-1 suggests China intends to lead the charge. But realising the full potential will require global collaboration between hardware and software innovators.

  • Chinese startup Fourier Intelligence unveils striking humanoid robot GR-1, showing China's ambitions in bipedal robotics

  • GR-1 wows crowds, despite the challenges of high costs and limitations facing humanoid robots globally

  • Fourier founder urges patience but sees potential for humanoids in households within 5-10 years, as software improves robot capabilities

Source: SCMP

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