The World Robotics Conference in Beijing Was Super Fun Pro-China Propaganda

The world's biggest robot conference has been turning heads in Beijing all week. 

by Sam Blum

Intelligent machines have been gathering since November 23 at China’s National Convention Center for the 2015 World Robot Conference in Beijing. Far from shy, these artificially intelligent networkers have been showing off what they can do for scores of smartphone-wielding onlookers. Less of a conference than a showcase, the event, which ends today was really about China’s intention to compete with Japan and Korea, two traditional powers in the robot game.

But even if the Chinese exhibits as an agglomeration amounted to so much posturing, some of them still stood out, offering fascinating glimpses into the future of the manufacturing and service industries. The official narrative in state media is that everything was cutting edge, which is false, but that doesn’t mean nothing was or that a massive controlled market like China won’t decide to double down on pre-outdated tech.

Speaking before the conference, Li Yuanchao, China’s vice president, said: “China has prioritized robotic and digitized manufacturing as part of our national strategy. We very much want to strengthen cooperation with other countries, to improve research and speed up the industrialization of robot technology.”

Much of what was showcased on the convention center floor echoed China’s new priority of robotic manufacturing:

Robots like these are changing Chinese manufacturing

But it hasn’t all been about industry. There were crowd pleasers as well. Robots played ping pong with attendees, danced, and walked their robot dogs.

There was also a feisty robot soccer match:

Given the state mandated push to lead in robotic manufacturing, China hosting the World Robotics Conference should come as no surprise. After all, 57,000 robots were sold in the country for industrial use last year.

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