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China publishes the first set of regulations on what a Humanoid Robot should be like, pilot starts with Shanghai

Shanghai has introduced China’s first government for humanoid robots, emphasizing risk controls and international collaboration. These guidelines were unveiled during the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC), where tech giants like Tesla showcased their latest robots.

According to the guidelines, manufacturers of humanoid robots must ensure their products do not threaten human safety and must protect human dignity. They are required to implement risk warning procedures and emergency response systems and provide training to users on these machines’ ethical and lawful use, thereby reassuring the public about the responsible use of this advanced technology.

The guidelines were developed by five Shanghai-based industry organizations, including the Shanghai Law Society, the Shanghai Artificial Intelligence Industry Association, and the National and Local Humanoid Robot Innovation Centre. These groups also advocate for global cooperation in the humanoid robot sector, suggesting creating a global governance framework and an international think tank dedicated to overseeing these machines.

At WAIC, various companies displayed their robotic innovations. Tesla showcased the second generation of its humanoid robot, Optimus, which drew significant attention despite being displayed behind glass and not interacting with visitors. Optimus, equipped with Tesla’s neural network and computer vision technology, is still not in full-scale production.

The majority of the 18 humanoid robots displayed at the conference were from Chinese companies, a clear testament to the country’s rapid development in the field. Shenzhen-based Leju Robot presented its Kuavo robot, which operates on an OS derived from Huawei Technology’s OpenHarmony, showcasing the innovative strides Chinese firms are making in the robotics sector.

China’s ambitious plan to achieve mass production of humanoid robots by 2025 and to lead the global sector by 2027, as outlined by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in November last year, underscores the country’s significant role in shaping the future of robotics. The MIIT envisions humanoid robots as a critical driver of economic growth by 2027, with applications in healthcare, home services, agriculture, and logistics, not just in China but across the world.

Chinese firms strive to catch up with their US counterparts in critical areas like AI, aiming for technological self-sufficiency. From 2014 to 2023, according to World Intellectual Property Organization data, Chinese companies filed six times as many generative AI patents as US firms.

These new guidelines represent a significant step in ensuring the safe and ethical development and use of humanoid robots in China. They also highlight the country’s ambition to become a global leader in AI and robotics technology.

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