On Thursday, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued guidelines on developing humanoid robots, stating that the robots may be the next groundbreaking products to reach consumers after computers, smartphones, and new energy vehicles. The government’s “Opinions on the Innovation and Development of Humanoid Robots” outlines goals and timelines for the new sector in China.

Why it matters: Humanoid robots incorporate advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence, high-end manufacturing, and new materials. With the potential to be a new competitive frontier in future industries, the government plans to promote innovation in key technologies by strengthening policies and mobilizing resources, given that China’s humanoid robot industry is in its budding phase.

Details: According to the guidelines, China expects to have a domestic ecosystem for humanoid robots established by 2025. By that time, robotic products are likely to be in mass production, fast catching up with international contenders.

  • The ministry’s guidelines outline ambitious goals. By 2025, the country aims to nurture two to three world-beating companies, establish a cluster of specialized small- and medium-sized enterprises, and create two to three industrial development hubs. 
  • By 2027, China is expected to establish a reliable industrial supply chain, with products from this sector seamlessly integrated into the real economy, as stated in the guidelines.
  • The guidelines propose promoting artificial intelligence technologies with a focus on breakthroughs in key areas such as the “brain”, “cerebellum” and “limbs.” The “brain” encompasses core technologies of humanoid robots based on large AI models, while the “cerebellum” involves the robot’s environmental perception, behavior control, and human-machine interactive abilities. The “limbs” refers to humanoid mechanical arms, hands, legs, and feet. The emphasis is on addressing key technologies, including lightweight skeletons, high-strength body structures, and high-precision sensors.
  • The guidance also outlines measures for expanding the application of humanoid robots in specific areas, including electronics, automotive, healthcare, services, agriculture, logistics, and even specialized industrial environments where humans currently undertake dangerous tasks in harsh conditions.

Context: The global market for humanoid robots, valued at $1.11 billion in 2022, is projected to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.1% from 2023 to 2030, according to a report by Grand View Research. There is already rising demand from public and corporate subsidy funds for specific goals, guiding research in humanoid robotics, as well as progress in various fundamental aspects of this field like improved AI, natural language processing, and robot dexterity.

Jessie Wu is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. She covers consumer electronics, semiconductor, and the gaming industry for TechNode. Connect with her via e-mail: jessie.wu@technode.com.