China / Innovation

Hefei looks to become China's robot hub

By Cheng Yingqi and Zhu Lixin in Hefei ( Updated: 2015-07-20 22:05
The city which hosts the 19th RoboCup Championships, Hefei, capital of East China's Anhui province, looks to became the country's robot industry hub.

A total of 175 robot teams from 47 different countries and regions are set to compete in the 19th RoboCup World Championships as the five-day event opens in Hefei on Sunday.

The ongoing event is the second one ever hosted in China, following the 12th in 2008 in Suzhou city of Jiangsu province.

"Tremendous changes have happened to the research and development of robots around the world", said Chen Xiaoping, president of RoboCup Chinese National Committee.

As a professor of the University of Science and Technology of China, based in Hefei, Chen also heads a robot R&D team of the university. The team WrightEagle is a traditional global powerhouse in robot R&D.

Chen said Hefei is better prepared this time compared with the previous event hosted in China.

"Many countries are now exerting efforts in the research and development of intelligent service and assistance robots, which is also expected to play an important role in upgrading China's manufacturing sector", Chen said, who also chaired the Chinese committee in 2008.

Zhang Qingjun, mayor of Hefei, said the city got the opportunity to host the event not through luck but rather because of its thorough preparation and strong position in the robot industry.

In Hefei, there are over 30 companies engaged in the R&D and manufacturing of robots or robot software design.

Hefei has a thriving scientific community, as the University of Science and Technology, one of China's top universities, and Hefei Institutes of Physical Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences are both based in the city.

As an important manufacturing hub in China, Hefei is also home to a wide variety of robots, especially industrial robots.

The city has been the country's largest manufacturing hub for refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines and TV sets. In 2014, the city produced more than 60 million such products, or one-fifth of the whole country's total production.

The city is also known as an auto manufacturing base, and is home to Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co, Ltd, known as JAC, being one of the largest Chinese automakers.

Hefei is also a manufacturing base for excavators, since Hitachi Construction Machinery Co, Ltd has been running a large assembly line here for 20 years.

Besides, Hefei BOE Optoelectronics, a subsidiary of BOE, is the country's largest semiconductor display manufacturing center.

"To upgrade the city's manufacturing sector, a lot of industrial robots have already been used in the local manufacturers, while the major predicts that we are only at the beginning of robot development and application," said Zhang.

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