Editor’s note: Thomas W. Pauken II is the author of “U.S. vs China: From Trade War to Reciprocal Deal,” and a consultant on Asia-Pacific affairs and geopolitical commentator. The article reflects the author’s opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.
Beijing is hosting the World Robert Conference (WRC) 2022 this week on August 18-21. Over 130 Robot-makers and developers from across the globe have converged upon the Beijing Etrong International Exhibition and Convention Center. They are showcasing more than 100 types of robots with a special focus in the fields of automated manufacturing, medical care, personal services, as well as humanoids’ development.
Meanwhile, the WRC 2022 is highlighting China’s emergence as one of the leading global superpowers in the science & high tech sectors. Many new “Made in China” robots and their respective upgrades have been transforming our present-day society, leading to a dramatic shift in favor of more-enhanced automated manufacturing, smart cities and personalized robots.
Robots can become our personal friends and even our co-workers, while these trends are accelerating at a much quicker pace in China, since the country has supported nationwide 5G development that facilitates faster speeds and boosts memory storage for WiFi networks. A number of Chinese hi-tech firms have also pushed ahead on 6G networks.
Accordingly, the WRC 2022 is an amazing opportunity for hi-tech companies to introduce new types of robots and to demonstrate their applications to the public and potential customers. The World Robot Contest Championships 2022 is also being held here, which has over 4,000 contestants participating in four separate categories.
A robot performing a surgery on a quail egg during an expo of the World Robot Conference 2022 (WRC 2022) in Beijing, August 18, 2022 /Xinhua
Robot surgeons as emerging trend
The rise of robots is leading to transformational changes. An increasing number of Chinese enterprises have jumped into developing robots that can be employed to assist medical caregivers with their duties, including surgery.
At the WRC 2022, the Beijing Surgerii Technology Co. Ltd hosted an exhibit to demonstrate how a human doctor from a remote location can conduct a surgical operation with four robotics arms to methodically remove the shell from a quail egg, as reported by the China Daily.
Liu Dongsheng, an engineer for the company, explained that this new development could extend the hands of a doctor and avoid common challenges including hand vibrations. The robot has already successfully assisted with urinary, chest and gynecological surgeries
Neurosurgeons have jumped on the robotics bandwagon as well. Zhou Xiaoming, a senior executive and producer at Remebot, introduced the RM-50 robot that stands 1-m in height. It looks like a square box with a robotic arm that can assist with very delicate brain surgeries.
At an exhibit, Remebot constructed a three-dimensional model of the patient’s brain with a cerebral hemorrhage, pointing out where the hemorrhage occurred. Then it handled a needle with its robotic arm to penetrate the virtual patient’s cranium, while the surgeon inserted a tube to drain out the hematoma.
“There was a time when neurosurgical doctors had to open the cranium to operate on a cerebral hemorrhage, mainly because they had to see the actual condition to know where the hemorrhage happened,” Zhou told the China Daily. “Now, with our precise 3D modeling and robotic arm, doctors can do (it) with a hole with a diameter of only 1 millimeter.”
Additionally, the cerebral hemorrhage robot has passed certification at more than 100 Chinese hospitals and had been applied in over 30,000 surgeries.
Automated manufacturing gains steam
The newly-emerging robots will not only serve as lifesavers in the medical field, but they will play much larger roles on factory floors, assembly lines, logistics services, as well as in mining and construction industries. 30 new lines of robots made their debut at the WRC 2022, one of them being a 5G-integrated excavator.
Heavy equipment, such as excavators, are becoming more self-autonomous, meaning the human drivers can remote control the excavator’s movements from a different location by viewing real-time video feeds and sensors attached to the equipment. The driver can sit in a comfortable climate-controlled office setting to perform such functions. Manual laborers could find life easier with robots doing the heavy lifting.
Additionally, China is experiencing boom times for industrial robots. According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the country’s industrial robot output surged to 366,000 units in 2021, an increase of 67.9 percent year-on-year, while China’s robot density hit 246 per 10,000 employees in 2020, nearly doubling that of global average.
China is also closing the gap with Japan, the world-leading robot-maker. Japan’s robot density per 10,000 workers stands at 390 and the U.S. is at 255. Japan has long stood at the forefront in the robotics field, but Chinese enterprises are fast catching up.
The WRC 2022 in Beijing is showcasing the best of robotics’ development in the current era. Chinese enterprises are expected to emerge as the star players at the expo. The country continues to embrace an innovation culture and bearing prosperous fruits from it.