Samsung on alert over growth of China’s robotics technology

2024. 3. 4. 11:42
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[Courtesy of Figure AI Inc.]
Samsung Group executives focused on the rapid growth of China’s robotics technology during their recent meeting on robotics and humanoid sector and expressed alarm at the possibility of China taking the lead in future industries.

According to industry sources on Sunday, the South Korean conglomerate recently held a meeting attended by top executives, with the theme of robots and humanoids. Experts in the field were also invited to deliver lectures and discuss the topics.

Samsung’s focus on robots and humanoids is believed to be a response to the emergence of a new era in the robot market, driven by the trend of generative artificial intelligence (AI).

Earlier this year, Samsung Electronics Co. unveiled an AI robot named Ballie at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2024, the world‘s largest consumer electronics and information technology (IT) exhibition.

Global big tech companies are also showing keen interest in the prospect of AI-enabled thinking robots in the near future.

Following Microsoft Corp. and OpenAI, Inc. and Nvidia Corp. invested in Figure AI Inc., a U.S. humanoid robot company, and Korean companies such as Samsung Venture Investment Corp. and LG Innotek Co. also reportedly joined the investment.

The technological competition between the United States and China is dividing the AI and robotics market between the two countries.

While Chinese companies are considered to be relatively behind in technological capabilities compared to their U.S. counterparts, their ability to quickly dominate the market with competitive pricing is seen as a threat.

Especially noteworthy are cost-effective robots introduced by companies like Unitree Robotics Co. and Xiaomi Inc. Even if Korean companies enter the market, it may not be easy to secure a leading position.

The Chinese government is leading the way in developing humanoid companies by directly investing in the field.

A representative example is Fourier Intelligence, a startup that is reportedly close to mass-producing its own humanoid robot GR-1, which is 1.65 meters tall and weighs 55 kilograms, similar to a human body, and can walk at a maximum speed of 5 kilometers per hour. The company plans to produce 500 units in 2024.

“Samsung’s executive meetings usually cover future prospects as well as pending management issues,” said an industry insider. “I understand that there was a sense of tension about the rise of Chinese companies during the latest meeting.”

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