AI robots tackling Covid-19 pandemic meet global consumers
BEIJING - Robots with unique functions like disinfection, delivery and rehabilitation assistance are exhibiting their talents to global consumers at the ongoing 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), which kicked off Friday in Beijing.
Themed "Global Services, Shared Prosperity," the fair is the first major international economic and trade event that China has held both online and offline since the Covid-19 outbreak.
In an exhibition area at the fair, a snail-like robot can be seen automatically moving toward a storage box, loading itself, entering an elevator and putting the box back in place after delivery.
The building distribution robot then takes a nearby disinfectant box and becomes a sterilizing vehicle.
"They were busy day and night during the epidemic," said Zhang Wenyi, design director at Candela (Shenzhen) Technology Innovation Co., Ltd., which develops Candle series robots.
According to Zhang, Candela sent a number of Candle robots to the Huoshenshan, Leishenshan and Jinyintan hospitals to aid in the fight against Covid-19 in the hard-hit city of Wuhan during the early days of the outbreak.
In addition to routine distribution and handling services, one of the robots at the Leishenshan hospital was assigned a special mission in late February. It was tasked with sending a wedding cake to a couple who were then working in the hospital and were unable to have their wedding ceremony in Shanghai as originally scheduled.
"It was a special wedding. The hospital became the marriage hall, the protective suit became a wedding gown, and the Candle robot was the cake delivery man," Zhang recalled. "Technology warmed people's hearts, and made the cold winter warmer."
An AI nursing robot at the fair can be seen simulating rehabilitation training for patients, helping a stuffed teddy bear lift its back, bend its knees and turn over. This has attracted significant attention at the booth operated by Shenyang-based Siasun Robot and Automation Co., Ltd.
Siasun has been in touch with the First Hospital of China Medical University in Shenyang since the early outbreak of Covid-19. It has donated 10 nursing robots and seven logistics robots to the hospital, according to Li Xuewei, general manager of Siasun's medical and health robot division.
Li said Siasun's nursing robots have helped Covid-19 patients recover, and reduced cross-infection and labor intensity for medical staff, thus improving efficiency. It took just three days to complete installation and debugging processes after the robots arrived at the hospital.
"At the CIFTIS, people can experience in person of all kinds of robots that are better serving human beings now," Li said.
Shenzhen-based company UBTECH Robotics Corp has brought its intelligent thermal detection robots, which participated on the frontline in the anti-epidemic battle, to exhibit at the fair.
Zhou Jian, founder of UBTECH, said the robots developed by the company have not only taken up tasks at hospitals, schools and enterprises in China, but have also provided anti-epidemic services in the Republic of Korea, Japan, Belgium, Nigeria and other countries.
The global robot market was valued at about $29.41bn in 2019, with service robots contributing nearly one third of the total and seeing the fastest growth of 14.1 percent, according to the Chinese Institute of Electronics (CIE).
China's service robot market was estimated to be worth 2.2 billion dollars by the CIE in 2019, accounting for more than a quarter of the global service robot market.
"We've achieved the independent R&D of core algorithms and software platforms, as well as the design and manufacturing of the products," said Li Xuewei, adding that China's high-tech industry has entered a fast track, providing advanced AI services to more global consumers.