China’s UBTech Links Its Humanoid Robots to Baidu's ChatGPT-Like Ernie Bot
Zheng Xutong
DATE:  Apr 02 2024
/ SOURCE:  Yicai
China’s UBTech Links Its Humanoid Robots to Baidu's ChatGPT-Like Ernie Bot China’s UBTech Links Its Humanoid Robots to Baidu's ChatGPT-Like Ernie Bot

(Yicai) April 2 -- UBTech has integrated its humanoid robot the Walker S with internet titan Baidu’s large language model Ernie Bot. The tie-up will help ensure that UBTech stays at the forefront of the humanoid robot industry as competition intensifies, the Chinese robot maker said yesterday.

UBTech plans to embed AI technologies such as LLMs in its humanoid robots over the next two to three years, the Shenzhen-based firm said. But such integrations are still at the research and development stage, and it is difficult to guarantee when these products can start mass production, whether it will be this year or next year. 

Recently UBTech distributed a video showing how the Walker S can respond to voice commands and fold clothes, sort out objects, and answer questions about how to match clothes when prompted.

UBTech plans to start training its humanoid robots to work on new energy vehicle production lines this year, and they will start to be delivered in small batches next year, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Zhou Jian said. At the end of this year, UBTech will also launch the first generation of ‘family-member’ humanoid robots which provide companionship and emotional support.

The recent tie-up between the US’ ChatGPT developer OpenAI, chipmaker Nvidia and robot manufacturer Figure AI shows that partnerships can provide strong technical support for humanoid robots, it added. Not long ago, California-based Figure AI released a video showing how Open AI's large model can be applied to humanoid robots, which led to heated discussions at the time.

Most of UBTech’s income comes from robots used in the educational and logistics sectors. Humanoid robots are not a major source of revenue and the company has only sold one Walker-2 robot in the first half of 2023 due to their high price of CNY6 million (USD845,400) each. UBTech did not disclose full-year sales of Walker series robots in the earning report.

UBTech will not cut back on investment in R&D as existing technology is still limited, Zhou said. Last year, UBTech’s R&D expenditure expanded 14.5 percent to CNY491 million (USD67.8 million), accounting for almost half of its revenue at 46.5 percent.

UBTech’s net losses widened 28.1 percent last year from the year before to CNY1.3 billion (USD170 million), according to the firm’s latest financial report released on March 28. Revenue, though, climbed 5 percent to CNY1.1 billion (USD145.9 million).

UBTech’s share price [HKG:9880] closed down 2.8 percent at HKD219.80 (USD28) today.

Editor: Kim Taylor

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Keywords:   Baidu,UBTECH Robotics