With the development of science and technology and economy, today China has become the world’s largest industrial robot application market. Now the domestic has emerged such as Siasong, Tuostar and other large well-known robot enterprises, the application of these companies have also achieved good results. However, under the prosperous market, the domestic robot industry still has a weakness that cannot be ignored.
While China has many talented robot makers, it still relies heavily on imports for the core components needed to make robots. How to reverse the dependence on import of core components and speed up the application of robots is an urgent problem for many domestic robot enterprises.
OFweek interviewed Mr. Cai Yingpeng, founder and CEO of Beijing Inspire Robots Technology Co., LTD., at the “WAIE2019 4th Shanghai International Artificial Intelligence Exhibition & Artificial Intelligence Industry Conference”. While introducing the company, Mr. Cai Yingpeng also explained the current development situation and challenges of China’s robot industry for OFweek.
Industry status: Core components are still weak
Beijing Inspire Robots Technology Co., LTD. (hereinafter referred to as “Inspire Robot”) was founded in 2016, mainly engaged in the research and development of robot core components and intelligent operation solutions. If other robot companies want to be the “super star” in front of the stage, Inspire Robots is more like a “backstage craftsman” quietly working.
According to Cai Yingpeng, the initial positioning of the company is a robot manufacturer, mainly engaged in robot research and development. However, during the research and development, Cai Yingpeng found that although there are many manufacturers of robot parts in China, there are very few types of parts that these manufacturers can really provide to manufacturers. For example, when it comes to some special parts, the categories of parts in the domestic market are far from enough, and enterprises often cannot find matching models.
Secondly, in the manufacturing process, domestic manufacturers still have many deficiencies. Take micro motors for example, micro motors are generally divided into consumer level, medical level, industrial level, and currently the technology of domestic manufacturers can only meet the consumer level application. Even if robotics companies can work with motor manufacturers to improve it, it still takes two to three years and costs too much.
In Cai Yingpeng’s opinion, today’s robot industry can be divided into upstream component manufacturers, intermediate integrators and technical solution providers, and downstream application developers and market channels. For the development of the industry, every link is indispensable. But in the domestic robot industry, upstream core components are still a weak spot.
At present, the robot core parts industry is relatively developed in Germany, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea and other countries, because the product quality is excellent, domestic robot companies often buy from these manufacturers, so the parts of these countries in China’s local market share is very high.
In the long run, the lack of core components is bound to limit the development of the domestic robot industry. Because the hardware is really the most critical part of the overall performance of the robot, and in the hardware, the biggest bottleneck is the core components. Only by making a breakthrough in core components can China’s robotics technology and the entire industry truly take off.
So rather than retreat from the shortcomings of the upstream parts market, Mr. Cai saw it as an opportunity and a new discovery for the company.
Vision and Positioning of Inspire Robots
At present, most of the domestic robots in the intelligence aspect has not been too big problem, but the operation ability is still very weak. Therefore, there are still many interactive robots in China, but there are very few robots that can truly realize intelligent operation.
Therefore, “how to achieve truly intelligent operation” has become the focus of many robotics companies. The job of the robot is to serve those companies.
In addition to providing core components for domestic robot companies, Inspire Robots will also provide “intelligent operation solutions” for companies, Cai Yingpeng said. In simple terms, it is to make the robot can really have the intelligent operation ability like people.
But there are also several domestic companies focusing on core robot components, some of which have a long history of development. In contrast, Intime Robot, which was founded in 2016, is still very young. So how can a robot stand out from the competition? To this question, Cai Yingpeng also gave his own answer confidently:
First, team advantage
At present, Inspire Robots has a relatively small team of less than 20 people. But from the overall team configuration, human resources are very comprehensive. For example, we have accumulated certain knowledge in mechanical design, material processing technology, machine tool operation, sensor production, hardware system, control algorithm, software system and other aspects. Many parts teams can produce by themselves and achieve self-sufficiency, which is something that most core parts manufacturers cannot do at present.
Intellectual property rights
Inspire Robot attaches great importance to the layout of intellectual property rights. In this technical field of related products at home and abroad, Inspire Robot has owned dozens of invention patents. In the patent layout, because the robot has many domestic counterparts to take a step ahead.
Third, geographical advantages
China is now the world’s largest robot market. As a local enterprise, Inspire Robot is very familiar with the domestic market, and can contact customers faster than foreign manufacturers, get feedback, timely improve and update technology. Secondly, robots are more advantageous than foreign manufacturers in terms of labor cost and manufacturing cost. The same parts, as long as the quality is excellent, rather than buy foreign products, customers are more willing to choose domestic products nearby.
“The whole industry has to move up, and it has to work together. A single breakthrough is useless because the whole technology industry has to develop together. Our vision and goal are to provide customers with better services, so that robots can achieve real practical, more intelligent, and only in this way can the real application of robots.” Cai Yingpeng said at the end of the interview.
The “plank effect” tells us that the amount of water a barrel can hold depends on the shortest plank. This principle also applies to the current Robot industry in China. If an industry wants sustainable development, it must develop the whole upstream and downstream industry chain together. If Chinese enterprises have to use the core parts of foreign manufacturers to make robots, then if foreign manufacturers stop supplying one day, China’s robot industry is bound to suffer a huge blow. To avoid this kind of problem, we need more companies like Intime Robotics