Over the past two years, we have seen a handful of home robots in China. However, humanoid robots are yet to come to our daily lives, and Ewaybot, a humanoid robot company, focuses on the education market, not consumers, for their near-term growth.

Ewaybot’s first flagship robot MoRo will debut this week at CES in Las Vegas to get user’s feedback, seek investment, and appeal to potential buyers. MoRo is a human-size assistant robot that can grasp and handle objects, designed for academic research and education, business activities, as well as home assistance.

“Robotic market in 2020 will be huge. People will be learning, knowing, and accepting the robots. Currently, the consumer robotic market is not mature enough,” CTO of Ewaybot Weijian Shang told TechNode. “The problem is the lack of robotic talent in China and in the world. Only a few people know robot technology as a whole, and that’s why we focus on the education market. We want to partner with leading universities and many regular universities to push the robotic market bigger and bigger.”

The company claims that MoRo is the first humanoid robot to use ultrasound and infrared together. This allows the robot to move indoor and outdoor freely, compared to other robots that are only available for either indoor or outdoor use. Mr. Shang says their direct competitors in the market use ultrasound sensors, including Willow Garage’s Personal Robot 2, Pepper robot developed by SoftBank, NAO, and ATLAS developed by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency . 

The Beijing-based robotic company is now getting support from research labs and university departments in China.

“Most education robot companies in China are looking into middle and high school education markets; their user interfaces are pretty basic. We want to support the education of robot-specialized talents. Robotic engineers and researchers will be the workforce in the future. We want to help educate them,” Mr. Shang told us.

Ewaybot secured 110,000 USD seed funding from angel investor Yachao Liu, an angel round of 480,000 USD funding from Future Works in 2015, followed by pre-A funding of 1.7 million USD from Future Works and Seekdource in August 2016.

Founded by three Chinese students from Harvard and Carnegie Mellon University, the team says they will bring the product to the consumer market when the humanoid robotic market is mature enough.

“Consumer market now is dominated by desktop AI robots. Our focus is a mobile robot and we also put a lot of effort on the robotic arm. The concept is too sophisticated for the current market,” Mr. Shang added.

Image Credit: Ewaybot

Eva Yoo

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at evayoo@technode.com