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IndustryNio testing use of humanoid robots on factory production line

Nio testing use of humanoid robots on factory production line

Humanoid robot maker UBTech showed its Walker S robot working on an assembly line at a Nio factory in a video.

Nio (NYSE: NIO) is testing humanoid robots on its assembly line at one of its factories, a move that is expected to boost already high levels of automation.

Hong Kong-listed humanoid robot maker UBTech Robotics (HKG: 9880) yesterday shared a video on Weibo showing its Walker S robot working on an assembly line at a Nio factory.

This is the first time Walker S has had real-world training at a new energy vehicle (NEV) factory, UBTech said. “Behind simple tasks is technology and strength,” the company said on Weibo.

During the training, the Walker S utilized its real-time image capture and transmission capabilities to participate in quality inspections of door locks, seat belts, headlight covers, and was able to affix vehicle logos, according to the video.

UBTech did not share more information about Walker S’s work at Nio’s facility. Nio did not release information about the test.

Humanoid robots need to come into the industrial smart manufacturing space, said UBTech’s chief brand officer Tan Min, according to another video shared on Weibo by the company on February 20.

One of the most important things is to get robots into real factory environments to find solutions, he said.

Founded in March 2012, Shenzhen-based UBTech is a humanoid and intelligent service robotics company, according to its website.

The company made its debut on the Hong Kong stock market on December 29, 2023, under the ticker symbol 9880, the first humanoid robot maker to list there.

On the same day as the company’s IPO, local media outlet Jiemian cited supply chain sources as saying that UBTech’s products may have made their way into the production lines of BYD (OTCMKTS: BYDDF), which is also based in Shenzhen.

When asked, UBTech CEO Zhou Jian said he couldn’t confirm that, but that the company had been in contact with a number of NEV makers, according to the report.

UBTech’s humanoid robots include Walker, Walker X, and the Panda, according to its website. Walker S is not on its product list.

Walker is 145 centimeters tall and weighs 77 kilograms, a description on UBTech’s website shows.

The humanoid robot uses Intel i7 7500U and i5 6200U as processors and the operating system is Ubuntu + Linux RT Preempt + ROS + Android.

Walker uses lithium iron phosphate batteries as its power source, which take 2 hours to fully charge and have a battery life of 2 hours.

Nio’s vehicles are produced at its F1 and F2 factories in Hefei, in eastern China’s Anhui province, which were originally assets of its automotive production partner, Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group, but were acquired by the company late last year.

Both plants have highly automated production lines, and CnEVPost visited the F1 plant in December 2020 and the F2 plant at NeoPark in Hefei in November 2023.

Nio opened the F2 plant for public tours last October, saying at the time that the plant’s body shop was one of the most advanced in the world, with 756 robots for automated production.

Nio’s factory would place a higher priority on the use of humanoid robots and will also consider using robots that can think on their own, said Ji Huaqiang, the company’s vice president of manufacturing, in an interview with English-language media, including CnEVPost, at the F2 plant last November.

This article was first published by Phate Zhang on CnEVPost, a website focusing on new energy vehicle news from China.

CnEVPost is a website focused on the coverage of the new energy vehicle industry in China. As with our original intent for CnTechPost, there are a lot of interesting things happening in the Chinese EV industry every day, but they are not covered by the mainstream English language media. We're here to keep track of what's happening in the Chinese EV industry and strive to be the first to publish what we see in English.