Rise of the robots a lift for Shanghai

By Wang Ying and Yu Yilei in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2023-07-20 07:18
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Name: Atlas
Manufacturer: Boston Dynamics
Height: 150 cm
Weight: 89 kg
Capabilities: The robot can deliver high power to any of its 28 hydraulic joints for feats of mobility. Moving at a speed of 2.5 meters per second, it can conduct highly diverse and agile locomotion, and plan movements through complex dynamic interactions. The robot is also capable of doing leaps and somersaults.

Shanghai vision

China has formed a complete robotic industrial chain with sizable scale and quantity, said Shen Nanyan, executive vice-director of the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Intelligent Manufacturing and Robotics at Shanghai University. The innovative application of robots has been phenomenal, she added.

Cao Qixin, a professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and director of its Institute of Biomedical Manufacturing and Life Quality Engineering, believes there are reasons for the rapid development of the robotics industry in China, and Shanghai in particular. "Being a manufacturing giant gives China the strength to materialize many of the latest robotic application ideas," Cao said.

In the 1980s, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Shanghai University began research into the nation's first generation of industrial robots. With China's large talent pool, big corporations and technological strengths, it is easier to introduce robots across various sectors, Cao said.

Earlier this year, Shanghai unveiled a plan to promote its robot industry over the next three years. It aims to have 10 leading industrial robot brands, realize 100 robot application scenarios, and increase the city's robot industrial value to 100 billion yuan.

The targets are part of the city's efforts to spearhead the high-quality development of local industry, promote in-depth integration of robots and artificial intelligence, and use intelligent robots to shore up various industries, said Tang Wenkan, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization.

Shanghai's industrial robot sector and service robot sector made great progress last year.

Despite the impact of COVID-19, Shanghai saw its industrial robot output grow 6 percent to surpass 75,000 units in 2022, topping all Chinese cities. The use of service robots was applied widely in fields including medical care, construction, agriculture and commerce, Tang said.

Shen, from the Shanghai Key Laboratory, said Chinese robot manufacturers need to strengthen their foundations, differentiate their products and development, and cultivate talent if they are to produce higher-quality products.

Industry stalwart Fang called for more efforts on fundamental research. The robotics industry requires better core technologies to meet the challenges ahead, he added.

"In the meantime, innovative collaborations and integration of state-of-the-art technologies are equally important for the development of the sector," Fang said.

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