Humanoid Robot Joins Automaker’s Production Line

Ubtech Robotics humanoid robot will perform inspections of various vehicle components as well as manage quality control processes

Graham Hope

June 5, 2024

3 Min Read
Ubtech Robotics “Walker S” humanoid robot working on an automotive production line.
Ubtech Robotics

A humanoid robot is joining the production line at one of China’s most prominent vehicle manufacturers.

“Walker S,” developed by Shenzhen’s Ubtech Robotics, is set to be deployed by Dongfeng Liuzhou, a subsidiary of the Wuhan-based state-owned Dongfeng Motor Corporation.

The news, first reported by Chinese website IT Home, follows the signing of a strategic agreement between Dongfeng Liuzhou and Ubtech to accelerate the roll-out of human robots in manufacturing scenarios.

Initially, Walker S will be tasked with performing a number of specific jobs, including inspection of seatbelts, door locks, headlight covers and interiors.

The robot will also be involved in bodywork quality control processes, oil top-ups, front-axle sub-assembly, material selection and collection, and attaching vehicle logos.

Walker S will also be utilized alongside traditional automated production line equipment.

The robot will join around 7,000 employees at the massive Dongfeng Liuzhou facilities in Guangxi, where the subsidiary manufactures commercial vehicles, including trucks and vans, via its Dongfeng Chenglong arm and passenger cars under a number of brands through Dongfeng Forthing. 

According to the subsidiary’s website, there is capacity to build 500,000 vehicles a year.

Related:Humanoid Robots to Help Build BMWs

Walker S is 5.5 feet tall and features force-compliant drive joints and flexible coupling hybrid structures that enable it to walk in a stable fashion on production lines.

Ubtech claims: “With 41 servo joints with force feedback, multiple visual, audio and distance sensors, innovative multi-modal sensor fusion and dynamic environment exploration, Walker S can reliably perceive its surroundings, humans and objects.”

The ability to create 3D Semantic maps allows the robot to plan routes that avoid obstacles, while “fusion control” algorithms mean it can automatically connect to the manufacturing management system to exchange information in real-time about the production status.

In addition, by processing 3D point cloud information, it can recognize the 6D pose of complex objects, picking them up with its hand-eye coordination capabilities.

The robot’s arrival at Dongfeng Liuzhou was greeted by general manager Lin Changbo, who said: “We are very honored to bring Walker S to Liuzhou.

“Through practical training, it will provide better solutions in more complex inspection, assembly and logistics sites. This will not only bring greater improvement to Liuzhou Motor’s manufacturing level but will also become a new style of intelligent manufacturing in the automotive industry.”

Related:Nvidia CEO: Next Wave of AI Highlights Advances in Robotics

It’s not Walker S’ first auto industry gig, however, as it has alr

eady been deployed as a “workstation assistant” with another Chinese automaker, Nio.

While Chinese companies may be leading the way in the rollout of robots in car production, automakers elsewhere are laying out their own plans. Last year, BMW revealed how it intended to use robots made by Californian AI company Figure at its facility in Spartanburg, North Carolina.

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About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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