China is investing a lot of capital into robotics, and one side effect is a flood of companies working on bipedal entertainment robots. It’s now impossible to walk through a tech show in Beijing without seeing a handful of the two-legged bots krumping and somersaulting their way into the hearts of consumers.
It’s also spawned a trend of mass robot performances, where the the gadgets are programmed to take part in flash mob-style dance routines. While small scale performances have been held at expos and marketing events for some time, the mass performances went viral when CCTV staged a break dance featuring 540 bipedal robots during their Spring Festival Gala, a hugely popular annual event televised countrywide during Chinese New Years.
The event was not only visually spectacular, but also gave the company behind the robots, UBTECH Robotics Corp., a serious marketing bump. The robots taking part were the ‘Apha 1S’ models, a programable bipedal robot designed purely for entertainment purposes. To cap off the event in a truly tech-tacular fashion, drones dumped glitter over the bots during the performance’s finale.
The dance put UBTECH Robotics Corp. in the Guinness Book of World Records for the ‘most robots dancing simultaneously,’ but it was a record the would only hold for four months.
Last week, Qingdao-based robotic company Ever Win Company Ltd. bested the record by almost doubling the number of dancing robots to 1,007. During the annual Qingdao Beer Festival in Shandong the company staged the performance using their ‘QRC-2’ model bipedal robots, which stand at 43.8cm tall.
To clinch the record, the bots had to dance simultaneously for a full minute. A handful of the dancers sadly toppled over or didn’t perform, but a majority completed the total routine, allowing the company to take the title.
Despite a lull in China’s tech funding environment, robotics companies continue to produce bots for a variety of purposes, including entertainment. While the market for bipedal entertainment robots seems rather slim, a handful of other robotic devices designed for early education purposes are attracting much more attention from consumers. Chinese companies are also rapidly buying foreign manufacturing assets that feature robotics.
Video may require a VPN for mainland China viewers.