Shanghai AI conference stuns with 45 cutting-edge robots, dragon-themed open-source humanoid

Ollie Chang, Taipei; Jerry Chen, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: Shanghai Humanoid Robot Innovation Center

The 2024 World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) opened in Shanghai, showcasing an impressive array of 45 intelligent robots, including 25 humanoids.

Among them, the Healthy Loong (Qinglong), an open-source humanoid robot showcased by the National and Local Co-construction Humanoid Robot Innovation Center, captivated the industry's attention.

Robin Li, founder and CEO of Baidu, emphasized at the conference that AI models, whether open-source or proprietary, should prioritize practical applications. This year's WAIC highlighted the emergence of AI applications, with a focus on robotics.

Robots for the Year of the Dragon

According to reports from Shanghai Securities News, Xinmin Evening News, 21st Century Business Herald, and The Paper, Healthy Loong stands 185 cm tall, weighs 82 kg, and boasts 43 degrees of freedom with joint torque peaks reaching 400 Nm and computing power of 400 TOPS.

It supports multimodal mobility and perception, featuring high-mobility lower limbs and lightweight upper limbs. The robot can walk at 1 meter per second while carrying 40 kg, perform precise object manipulation, make coffee, climb stairs, and avoid obstacles. It remains stable even when pushed.

The robot's brain is powered by the Zhuque large language model, handling human-robot interaction and decision-making, while the Baihu model acts as the cerebellum, ensuring stable movement.

Jiang Lei, chief scientist at the Innovation Center, named the robot "Healthy Loong" to align with the Chinese zodiac, as 2024 is the Year of the Dragon. Jiang aims to create one new humanoid robot annually, each named after a zodiac animal, to foster an innovative and open-source humanoid robot community in China.

Jiang believes standardization and generalization are best achieved through open-source platforms. The humanoid robot industry faces challenges such as a lack of product differentiation and long software development cycles, especially for dynamics.

Yang Zhengye, the Innovation Center's market director, stated that open-source technology allows other robot teams to build on Healthy Loong's foundation, accelerating algorithm development and implementation.

Healthy Loong was developed by the Shanghai-based research lab Humanoid Robot, with a registered capital of RMB 1 billion. In May 2024, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Shanghai municipal government designated it as the National and Local Co-construction Humanoid Robot Innovation Center.

The center is in Pudong, a hub with a RMB 20 billion robotics industry. In 2023, four of China's twelve newly released humanoid robots originated from Pudong. Plans are underway to establish a robotics industry fund exceeding RMB 10 billion to further enhance the local ecosystem.

The path to AGI is robots

Other Chinese companies, including Dataa Robotics, Uls Robotics, Zhiyuan, Unitree Robotics, Fourier, CETC, Robot Era, Leju Robotics, and Kepler showcased their robots at the conference as well.

Although Elon Musk did not attend the AI conference, Tesla's second-generation Optimus humanoid robot was displayed. It featured improved control, balance, and a 30% increase in walking speed over the previous iteration.

Wang Xing Xing, founder, and CEO of Unitree Robotics, remarked that while Large Language Models (LLMs) are impressive, achieving artificial general intelligence requires physical robots that interact with the real world, engage in human activities, and enhance their ability to mimic, learn, and understand human emotions.