Business / Technology

Oh yes, OS key to robots

By Meng Jing (China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-29 07:44

Yu Zhicheng is convinced operating systems hold the key to making artificial intelligence-enabled robots an important part of people's everyday lives.

So, rather than launch robots, Yu's Beijing-based Turing Robot, a startup engaged in research into commercialization of AI, chose to build an Android-based operating system for robots, to enable more enterprises to design and develop robot products.

In late July, the company introduced its Turing OS, version 1.5, an upgrade of its first-generation OS that was launched about a year ago.

Just as Android and iOS are key to smartphones, operating systems designed specifically for robots can make a difference to this emerging sector, said Yu, chief executive officer of Turing Robot.

"Apart from us, there is no operating system in the market that is dedicated to robots. So, we've spent more than a year in developing one, and invested a lot," he said.

"Then, we found that an operating system alone isn't enough. We need to have more applications based on the system so that robots can be used in a wide range of scenarios."

The Turing 1.5 OS now powers more than 10 apps-strong tools to facilitate the development of robots that can chat, sing, take photos and teach English.

Developers can use the new apps in toy robots or similar intelligent playthings for kids. The move is in line with Yu's grand ambition of "bringing robots to every Chinese family".

Yu estimates that it may take 10 years for robots to be intelligent enough to be used widely. "But for starters, it can be widely adopted by families with children."

He foresees robots serving as interconnectivity gateways, hooking up with smart devices and smart home appliances-a variant of the internet of things. "Robots can interact with people and control smart devices and home appliances. They will become the robot butlers at homes," he said.

The Shenzhen-listed Alpha Group Co Ltd, which owns intellectual property rights over several popular cartoons, invested more than 2 billion yuan ($300 million) early this year to foray into the toy robot industry. The first-generation robots, which were developed based on Turing OS, are under advanced testing now.

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