2023 World Robot Conference kicks off in Beijing, as China eyes for robotic advances
Advances in robotics help upgrade industry, services in China
Published: Aug 16, 2023 09:50 PM
The 2023 World Robot Conference (WRC) kicks off in Beijing on August 16, 2023. Photo: Li Hao/GT

The 2023 World Robot Conference (WRC) kicks off in Beijing on August 16, 2023. Photo: Li Hao/GT

The week-long 2023 World Robot Conference (WRC) kicked off on Wednesday in Yizhuang, Beijing's Daxing district, with nearly 600 robot products from more than 160 domestic and foreign enterprises on show, sending upbeat signs for Chinese robotics sector.

Industrial robots used in new-energy vehicle production, logistics and raw material processing are now popular. Humanoid robots equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) modules also attracted attention at the event, the Global Times learned.

Liang Liang, deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Institute of Electronics, told the Global Times on Wednesday that about 60 new robot products will be unveiled during the WRC this year, spanning manufacturing, healthcare, education, medicine and services. 

Insiders said that numerous application scenarios and a fast-developing manufacturing sector have made China into a world-leading market for robotics. The country has the largest number of industrial robots. 

Zhu Jun, general manager of the market analysis department of Chinese robot company EFORT, told the Global Times on Wednesday that from 2000 to 2010, China's producers of smartphones and auto vehicles greatly boosted research into robotics.

"With more homegrown robots being used in China's manufacturing industry, Chinese robot brands and associated products will become increasingly popular in the global market," said Zhu.

"China's robotics developed quickly during the past five to eight years, while Hyundai's strategy of establishing individual companies providing robotic products was due to the positive climate in the Chinese market," Miles Chiang, manager of the East China Region of the Hyundai Robotics, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

In the first half of 2023, China's output of industrial robots hit 222,000 units, up 5.4 percent year-on-year, and the output of service sector robots hit 353,000 units, up 9.6 percent, Wang Hong, an official of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), said during a press conference for the 2023 WRC on August 2. 

"Business revenue of the robot industry nationwide surpassed 170 billion yuan ($23.3 billion) in 2022. The steady growth made China a major power in global robotics manufacturing," said Wang. 

As of end-2022, the industrial robot density in China's manufacturing sector reached 332 per 10,000 workers, up 13 times from a decade earlier, said MIIT Vice-Minister Xin Guobin at the 2022 World Intelligent Manufacturing Conference on November 13, 2022.  

In order to secure the high-quality development of the country's manufacturing, 15 government departments issued a development plan for robotics for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) in December 2021, which called for fostering the industry to be world-leading, with average annual revenue growth surpassing 20 percent.

The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Economy and Information Technology announced supportive measures on the opening day of the 2023 WRC, including encouraging robot enterprises' IPOs, establishing a special fund of 10 billion yuan and offering subsidies for tech-leading enterprises.