Quadruped Robot “Little Climax”

At Xiaomi’s annual speech in 2021, a four-legged bionic Robot dog named CyberDog (Chinese name “Tidan”) attracted widespread attention, and some even cheered that “the first Robot dog of young Chinese people is finally here”.

At present, Xiaomi is recruiting for public testing in the community, and the first batch of 400 places will be opened to purchase the Experience Engineering Exploration Edition Iron Egg at a paid price of 9,999 yuan; as of August 19, more than 20,000 people have submitted applications.

Quadruped Robot “Little Climax”

With Xiaomi’s brand influence and extensive user base, the public’s attention was successfully attracted to the quadruped Robot track. Zhang Di, founder and CEO of Benmo Technology, joked that through Mr. Lei’s advertising for the industry, it was obvious recently that the company’s wheel-footed robot products sold better without advertising.

The spring of quadruped bionic robots?

Before Xiaomi, quadruped bionic robots were not no man’s land. There are both “old Internet celebrities” Boston Dynamics and latecomers ANYbotics on this track, and there is no shortage of followers in China.

In March of this year, Tencent officially released the first multi-modal quadruped robot Max with fully self-developed software and hardware. It adopts an innovative integrated design of foot-wheel integration, with legs and wheels, and various difficult performances. Chen Zhenyu, the former CEO of Qunar.com, also threw himself into the entrepreneurial tide of quadruped robots and founded HachiBot, which received tens of millions of dollars in financing from well-known investors such as Northern Lights Ventures, Plum Ventures, and Shunwei Capital.

In addition to the cross-border Internet giants, professional players in the field of quadruped robots are also emerging. The “Ben Ben” launched by Yushu Technology made a stunning appearance on the stage of the 2021 Spring Festival Gala, performing on the same stage with Andy Lau, Wang Yibo, and Guan Xiaotong; Yunshen started from the attributes of the robot dog special robot to create a brand of inspection robots; Weilan Technology released The first personal robot project in the form of a quadruped robot – Alpha Robot Dog…

Xiaomi won’t be the last. However, Zhang Di believes that,The Matthew effect of the pure quadruped robot industry is gradually emerging. After the market window period has passed, it is very difficult to re-enter the game, and the entire industry still needs to redefine categories.

At this stage, the concept products of quadruped robots are blooming all over China.

That’s the power of the track.

According to a report by the Boston Consulting Group, the global market for professional service robots spawned by bionic robots will reach $170 billion by 2030, far exceeding the market size of industrial robots and assistive robots.

And Xiaomi’s entry into the game undoubtedly “added fire” to the quadruped robot, attracting a large wave of traffic. As one of the most influential hardware companies in China, Xiaomi’s behavior has formed a weather vane; Xiaomi’s attention will also attract the attention of capital and talents; when more capital and talents pour in, this track can only be achieved. really grow up.

It seems that the four-legged robot that has been “in the valley for a long time” seems to be ushering in the spring of development.

Still in the trough: Excessive price vs. just need

However, the long-standing commercialization dilemma of quadruped robots obviously cannot be solved by “flow”.

Counting the factors that hindered the commercial landing of bionic robot dogs in the past, the first thing that was criticized was the price. The Boston Dynamics Spot series is priced at US$75,000, and only 120 were sold in the third month of its open purchase; the price of the Alpha robot dog was 27,000 yuan; Yushu Technology released it in June this year. Each new model robot dog Go1 costs only 16,000 yuan. However, this price record was broken by Xiaomi’s “iron egg”.

In line with the principle of “if you don’t make a move, you must give it for free”, the price of “Iron Dan” of 9,999 yuan directly broke the 10,000 yuan mark of the whole industry of quadruped bionic robots.

However, the price of 9999 is still a bit expensive for C-end consumers. For more people, such a robot dog with stronger entertainment attributes, the thousand yuan level may be more able to convince themselves to “try the early adopters”. .

In fact, many people in the industry pointed out that the “Iron Egg” launched by Xiaomi is currently making a profit at a loss. According to media analysis, the cost of “iron eggs” is at least 50,000 yuan, which means that Xiaomi will lose 40,000 yuan for every “iron eggs” sold. Lei Jun also said in a live speech that this DEMO product actually invested a lot, and the cost of the NVIDIA chip carried by the “Iron Egg” alone would cost 3,000 yuan.

That is to say, at least for C-end users, the cost reduction of quadruped robots has not reached the expected level of general public consumption.

It seems more like the “iron egg” actually pushed a product that is still groping for application to start a price war in advance.Wang Lichao, executive director of Chaoyuan Robotics, believes that Xiaomi’s move may make some companies’ products “still dead”..

The second is the accumulation and precipitation of the technical level. As Zhihu Gao Zan answerer YY Shuo said, the footed robot can be said to be the most compact and complex electromechanical system that human beings have done so far. Force control and certain intelligence, two or three main control computers, 12 motors, and dozens of different sensors are the basic configuration, and most of the circuits have to be stuffed into a space as large as a tissue box, which is technically difficult. Enough to imagine.

It said that footed robots still need to make breakthroughs in some basic technologies, such asLocalization and mapping of footed robots in extreme terrain and extreme motion.

Finally, returning to the landing scene, Boston Dynamics, as the “founder” of the industry, has no doubts about its technical strength, but it has never been able to overcome the dilemma of commercial transformation. This is also the biggest reason why Boston has changed hands several times. Boston Dynamics has been losing money for 29 consecutive years since its founding in 1992.

Four-legged robot, just need not just.

Another Zhihu Gao Zan replied to the director, Xun Yu, who expressed thisThe current application and product positioning of domestic quadruped robots may have fallen into an embarrassing closed loop: In addition to “fun”, there is no suitable landing application, and the user positioning brought by “fun” can only be locked in the C-side, and to do the C-side, the price must be kept very low, and the BOM cost is low. It also determines that the upper limit of the hardware performance of the mechanical dog itself is not high, and the hardware setback will limit the product positioning to just “fun”.

This is a closed loop of a vicious circle.

Moreover, for robot dogs in ordinary consumer families, it is far from enough to meet the needs of novelty, freshness and fun. How to make them have more functions and free up more time for human beings is the only way for quadruped robots. The key to the successful entry of “toys” into “products”.

For B-side scenarios, Boston Dynamics robot dogs not only appear in various extreme work scenarios, but also can carry materials, check machine failures, and record construction progress in construction sites or parks. To unlock more application scenarios, Boston Dynamics has also launched a product combination of quadruped bionic robot + arm.

However, the current dosage of Boston Dynamics robot dogs is still small.

After all, making a B-side product requires serving the special needs of every industry and enterprise, and it is often a test of the manufacturers’ ability to deeply cultivate the industry.

In contrast, domestic enterprises, most of the projects implemented are still linked to production, education and research. Special robots in industrial applications are generally crawler and wheeled machines, mainly for simple scenarios; and in overly complex industrial applications, the current level of intelligence of domestic robot dogs cannot cope.

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Published on 10/09/2022