Chinese beverage behemoth Wahaha is taking an ambitious step into the world of robotics, launching a smart manufacturing company that is under the direct supervision of the company founder, billionaire businessman Zong Qinghou.

According to the company database website Qichacha, the Zhejiang Wahaha Intelligent Robotics Company was just set up in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou last week with registered capital of RMB 40 million (around $6 million). The newly formed company will specialize in the design, manufacture, and sale of intelligent robotics, and will also offer technology consulting services. Wahaha owns 65% shares of the company, with its boss Zong acting as chairman.

“People have been less willing to do routine manual work, and dangerous jobs should not involve manpower,” (our translation) Zong told Chinese media Caixin in March 2017, on why the company moved into the business, which began in 2011. A company spokeswoman told TechNode on Tuesday that it is the first domestic company to adopt intelligent solutions in the beverage industry, as “the combination of smart technologies and traditional manufacturing has been a growing trend.”

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Jill Shen

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen