Forget Tesla Bot! Xiaomi Just Created a Robot Gentleman, Its More Impressive
Chinese company Xiaomi has apparently won over the Tesla bot hype with its CyberOne robot
Chinese tech company Xiaomi has unveiled a prototype bipedal robot: the slick-looking CyberOne. The bot was unveiled last week, and, judging from a brief demo, can do little more than walk across a stage. However, the CyberOne does show us the current state of robot development for a non-specialized company like Xiaomi and offers valuable context as to what we might expect from a, rather similar-looking bipedal bot: Tesla’s much-hyped Optimus robot, also known as the Tesla bot, due to be unveiled as a prototype later this year on September 30th. As per Xiaomi’s official specs, the CyberOne weighs 52kg (114lbs) and stands 177cm tall (that’s 5 foot 8 inches — officially making CyberOne a short king). It has a top speed of 3.6km/h (that’s 2.2mph, just below average walking pace) and comes with a pair of mitten-like hands that can open and close but seem incapable of more dextrous movement.
The bot has some sort of machine vision system for navigation that can do depth-sensing at distances of up to eight meters, and Xiaomi claims it can also “perceive” human emotion, presumably using some sort of AI system to parse facial expressions. (An important side-note here: experts say these sorts of emotion recognition AI are essentially unscientific, and some tech giants like Microsoft have stopped offering them for this reason.)
Well, over at IEEE Spectrum, robot reporter Evan Ackerman astutely points out that Xiaomi is actually being quite upfront about CyberOne’s purpose. In a press release, the company describes CyberOne as a “symbol of Xiaomi’s dedication to incubate a technological ecosystem” and says work on the bot will “give birth to more application scenarios in other fields” (emphasis mine). In other words: CyberOne is a marketing tool and a platform for broader R&D efforts and Xiaomi is not promising to build a robot butler any time soon.
The CyberOne is the second product out of the Xiaomi Robotics Lab, after the CyberDog from August 2021. The humanoid machine has a face in the form of a curved OLED panel, it can see the world in 3D, and hear with two microphones to identify “85 types of environmental sounds and 45 classifications of human emotion.” Its body has a total of 21 degrees of freedom comprised of 13 joints, with each degree of freedom capable of responding within 0.5ms. Its upper limb actuators have an output torque of up to 30Nm and can operate with a precision of up to 1Nm for a gentle touch. The legs below are powered by actuators with “an instantaneous peak torque of up to 300Nm.” But of course, the CyberOne is clearly nowhere near as elegant as Boston Dynamics’ Atlas.
Despite the surprise live demo, Lei said that for now, each CyberOne would cost somewhere in the range of 600,000 to 700,000 yuan (about $89,100 to $104,000), so it’ll be a while before his company deems it suitable for mass production, if ever. Until then, Xiaomi will continue adding new capabilities to its first humanoid robot. “With AI at its core and a full-size humanoid frame as its vessel, this is an exploration of possibilities of Xiaomi’s future technological ecosystem and a new breakthrough for the company,” the exec added. It’ll be interesting to see how Elon Musk responds to this lookalike of his own big boy, though he’s probably a little distracted these days.