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This year’s Techcrunch Shanghai featured everything IoT for the home from connected door handles to soothing smart sleep masks. But according to China’s leading voices in robotics, the most exciting addition to our homes in the next five years will be our AI helpers.

“In the next five years Robotic companies will nurture the market, and you will have at least one or two robot appliances at home,” said Yao Kong, Founder of Ming Robot. Kong spoke alongside Ricky Ye, CEO of DFRobot, and Zhichen Yu, founder of Tuling123 at a panel on the development of China’s robotics industry.

While the exhibition floor was light on robots, it’s been a big year in robotics in China. At this year’s GMIC in Beijing several new robotics innovations were unveiled including the very humanoid YangYang, a life-size robot co-created by Japanese robotics guru Hiroshi Ishiguro and Chinese robotics professor Song Yang at the Yangyang Intelligent Robot Science Service Centre in Shanghai.

According to Ye, years of perfecting robots will finally see mass consumer adoption over the coming years. “If you look at PCs, the revolution happened in late 80s. However, it made rapid growth only 10 to 15 years later,” Ye remarked, drawing parallels with China’s growing robotics industry.

“Robots can serve in diverse industry areas. The mission for those companies will be focusing on one sector as well as special key functions of robot.” said Ye.

“There are two opportunities in robotics,” added Zhichen Yu “a robot that has single functionality which works simply and well enough, or robots that go deep in artificial intelligence that can be used in multiple verticals.” 

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“Robots will be used guide in shopping malls, server in shops, dish washer in restaurants, companion for children. If you look at the ten year time frame, senior care will be another market.”

Yu’s Tuling123 was showcased in the startup alley, it’s able to dance along with music as well as make a series of complex bipedal movements. The Robot also demoed at GMIC in Beijing a few months earlier. 

Robots Currently In Use

The panel also introduced some of the interesting robots already working in the field;

  • Receptionists: Saya the secretary robot respond to questions and hold a basic conversation in Japan
  • Security guards: Bob patrols office headquarters and scans rooms using its 3D sensors in Japan.
  • Chefs: A noodle-slicing robot named Foxbot can be found at in China’s Dazzling Noodles.
  • Surgeons: Surgeons already use automated systems to assist them with low-invasive procedures. 
  • Reporters: Associated Press has been automatically generating over 3,000 stories about US corporate earnings each quarter since June 2014.
  • Musicians: Toyota has created a violin-playing robot to introduce it to nursing homes and hospital.
  • Actors: British company made Robo Thespian robot can make jokes and break out into song.
  • Hanson Robotics came up with ‘Han’ and ‘Sophia’ resemble human faces using over 40 motors.