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China’s Young Tech Star Gears Up for Commercial Launch of Humanoid Robots in 2024

"If programmers are considered gods in the digital world, then shaping robots with our own hands and infusing them with souls using AI is the ultimate romance for true geeks!"

March 8, 2024
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Linwen
Editor-in-Chief, The China Academy

Shanghai-based startup AGIBOT is poised to make 2024 a landmark year for the commercial application of humanoid robots. With ambitious plans to establish Shanghai’s first mass production factory for these cutting-edge machines, the company is set to transform the industry.

AGIBOT recently solidified its strategic cooperation with Lingang Group, a state-owned enterprise overseeing industrial parks in the Lingang area. Multiple agreements were signed, paving the way for AGIBOT’s manufacturing plant, centralized product procurement, and strategic partnerships. These agreements, along with AGIBOT’s initial Lingang Fengxian manufacturing base, will enable the company to kickstart mass commercial production.

Looking ahead, AGIBOT aims to achieve local research and development, manufacturing, and application of its products within the Lingang area. Unveiled at the company’s first shareholders’ meeting in February, AGIBOT’s 2024 plan revolves around enabling industrial and commercial applications through innovative products like RAISE A2 and Juechen C5. By tailoring technological advancements to meet customer needs, AGIBOT aims to offer the most competitive intelligent robot solutions, driving intelligent transformation for enterprises.

AGIBOT’s team highlights significant progress made in the general-purpose robot domain in 2023, laying the foundation for high-quality development through corporate governance, team building, product research and development, and the establishment of mass production capabilities.

In August of the previous year, AGIBOT introduced its first humanoid robot, RAISE A1, designed for applications in the automotive, 3C manufacturing, logistics, and other sectors. By December 2023, the company had successfully completed five funding rounds, attracting investments from prominent names such as Hillhouse Capital and BYD, including an A+++ round that raised over 600 million yuan. AGIBOT is reportedly seeking a new funding round with a pre-investment valuation of 7 billion yuan.

Founded in February 2023, AGIBOT aims to create world-leading embodied AI and robotics products and ecosystems. Its founder, Peng Zhihui, widely recognized as Zhi Huijun on the internet, is a rising star in China’s tech scene.

During his early years, his parents’ work led him to relocate to Guangdong. Although there is limited information available about his childhood, it is known that he was a reserved child who found joy in the company of his Game Boy handheld console, which had a memory capacity of only 32MB. He developed a passion for drawing, playing the guitar, and table tennis.

In 2015, Peng Zhihui graduated from the University of Electronic Science and Technology and pursued his postgraduate studies at the School of Information and Communication Engineering. It was during this time that he showcased his impressive practical skills and gained recognition through his video creations. In 2017, he uploaded 11 videos on Bilibili, China’s counterpart to YouTube, featuring the frequent appearance of robots in various forms, such as self-balancing robots, bipedal robots, and ping pong-playing robots. Since then, Peng Zhihui has become a well-known personality in the tech community.

After completing his studies in 2018, Peng Zhihui joined OPPO Research Institute’s AI Laboratory as an algorithm engineer, where he spent two years honing his skills.

However, it was in 2020 that he truly made headlines. After successfully passing a rigorous seven-round interview process, Peng Zhihui became a part of Huawei through the “Genius Youth Program,” securing a position as an algorithm engineer in Huawei’s Computing Product Line, specializing in AI edge heterogeneous computing. With a salary of one million dollars, he became the talk of the town.

During his time at Huawei, Peng Zhihui and other gifted young individuals received accolades from Ren Zhengfei, the founder of Huawei, who recognized them as the driving force behind the company’s innovation.

Simultaneously, as a prominent Bilibili content creator, Zhihui Jun amassed an ever-growing fan base and earned the nickname “Wild Iron Man.” His Bilibili videos showcased a range of self-developed robots, each attracting millions of views. For instance, he successfully built the world’s smallest homemade TV in just three months and even fashioned a Mars rover using discarded crab shells, equipping it with wireless control, target tracking, and laser distance measurement capabilities. Presently, Zhihui Jun boasts over 2.5 million followers on Bilibili.

Peng Zhihui has nurtured a dream of robots since childhood: “If programmers are considered gods in the digital world, then shaping robots with our own hands and infusing them with souls using AI is the ultimate romance for true geeks!” As a result, in December 2022, Zhihui Jun officially announced his departure from Huawei on social media to pursue his dreams and a career that he is deeply passionate about.

In February of 2023, AGIBOT embarked on its journey, with Peng Zhihui assuming the roles of Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Technology Officer, overseeing the research and development of humanoid robot products. Joining him in this endeavor is Yan Weixin, the Chief Scientist of Shanghai Artificial Intelligence Research Institute’s Smart Healthcare division and a professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s School of Mechanical Engineering and Power Engineering.

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Linwen
Editor-in-Chief, The China Academy
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