by Julia Pierrepont III
LAS VEGAS, the United States, Jan. 7 (Xinhua ) -- CES 2020 being held in the U.S. city of Las Vegas this week is a veritable sci-fi movie set of wunderkind robots that have spectators line up to see what the present and the future holds in store in proto-humans.
Many of the leading robotic firms are from China, and this year's state-of-the-art robots from China on display at the CES put an end to the outdated litany that Chinese companies lack innovation. In commercialized service robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), they are leading the pack.
Keenon Robotics, based in the Chinese city of Shanghai, was founded in 2010 and started with a handful of employees, and now the company boasts 2,000 employees with more than 23,000 robots in operation around the globe.
The company managed to struggle, step by step, to surmount a host of design, AI and engineering challenges to reach the top of the heap in commercial robotic sales with worldwide market penetration, North American Marketing Director Wang Mingmin told Xinhua, noting that it is all worth it in the end.
Wang credits the excellent robotic supply chain in China and the global labor shortage caused by COVID-19 for much of the market's recent growth, 70 percent of which is in the restaurant industry.
"The pandemic has effected every industry and restaurants and hotels can't find enough qualified people to work. We have a solution for their labor problems with our reliable, cost-effective robots," he told Xinhua on Thursday.
Their fleet of innovatively-designed products includes hospitality, hotel, and catering/delivery robots that carry food, goods, and other deliveries to customers.
Their disinfection robots are perfect for killing viruses and bacteria in hospitals, hotel rooms, commercial kitchens, and other fields across multiple industries, and their delivery robots were used in more than 100 hospitals to make safe and sanitary deliveries during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their ever-so-cute hospitality robot guide, Peanut, complete with a cheery, plump body and bright digital banner, adds a touch of whimsy and charm to help personalize the experience.
Their robots work by their proprietary blend of fully autonomous positioning and navigation technology, which integrates multiple sensors such as Lidar, machine vision, depth vision, and sonar, to enable the robot to work efficiently and reliably in complex environments.
Keenon CEO Tony Li said in a statement, "We believe that the autonomous revolution lead by intelligent robotics will keep you inside of tedious, labor-intensive and dangerous tasks allowing us to focus on more meaningful things in life."
Another leading Chinese robotics company, Pudu, run by an innovative team of 20-somethings, offered a line-up of attractive, customer-facing robots at the CES this year, with colorful display screens and cute cat-like features, KettyBot and BellaBot, that enable businesses to begin customer engagement before they even enter the store or restaurant.
"KettyBot allows your special offers to reach more customers, delivering a higher conversion rate with a very novel approach," said Pudu in a statement.
Their clever bots attract customers by cracking jokes, dancing, and interacting one-on-one with customers, plus details of a business's products. Dishes or discounts can be shown to potential customers on-screen using voice interaction, further enhancing human-to-robot experience.
"Our technology is more mature and stable and our obstacle avoidance technology makes them very safe and reliable," Senior Overseas Sales Manager Tracy Yan told Xinhua.
In business since 2016, the Shenzhen-based Pudu aims its ambition "to become the world's strongest commercial service robot company" and it is committed to "using robots to improve the efficiency of production and human life."
Besides the leading Chinese companies in the service robots field, their Japanese contenders have also added spice to the CES with their adorable service robots. Cinnamon, from Donut Robotics, is as cute as a button and can be used as a multi-lingual receptionist, keep a watchful eye on customers' child, pet or senior, or even conduct simple health checks.
Linking to Cinnamon is C-FACE, another very COVID-specific innovation from Donut Robotics. It is the world's first smart mask that transcribes what you say through the mask and sends it to other persons' cell phone in eight languages. It can also take minutes of meetings and send remote commands to Cinnamon.
According to a research report published by MarketsandMarkets last August, the world's service robotics market is projected to grow from 36.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 to 103.3 billion dollars by 2026.
The growing adoption of robots for new applications providing high returns on investment coupled with rising use of internet of things in robots for cost-effective predictive maintenance is the key factors driving the service robotics market, the report said. ■