A giant Chinese humanoid startup is opening an AI centre at University of Sydney

Ubtech’s Alpha 2 humanoid robot (L). (Source: Ubtech)

The University of Sydney and Chinese humanoid robot firm Ubtech have launched a new research centre.

The Ubtech Sydney Artificial Intelligence Centre, founded by the university’s engineering and information technology faculty, will open later this year to bring researchers from different academic fields together to collaborate on artificial intelligence.

“We’re working towards a future where humanoid robots walk out of our research centre and into ordinary people’s households,” said Professor Dacheng Tao, who will lead the centre.

Tao said Ubtech was the first company in China to commercialise humanoids for everyday use, and the centre would tap into the company’s technology and “creativity” to develop, analyse and test AI algorithms for such robots.

“There are a number of research groups in Australia focusing on either AI or humanoid robotics, but our unique advantage is the marriage between these two fields.”

The partnership between the two organisations is worth $7.5 million, a university spokesperson told Business Insider.

Ubtech was founded by current chief executive James Zhou in 2012 and last year raised $US100 million series B funding, according to Crunchbase.

Humanoid robots that emulate what we currently consider uniquely human qualities are on the horizon, according to Tao.

“As humans, our perceptions of our environments allow us to understand events, make logical deductions and learn how to behave in certain situations. We expect that one day in the not-too-distant future machines will be able to do these same things, just like us – or possibly even better,” he said.

University of Sydney engineering and IT faculty dean Professor Archie Johnston said the new centre would facilitate collaboration between the public and private sectors.

“It will serve the wider community by establishing collaborations with government and technology companies to solve real-world problems that are needed to improve people’s lives. It will also cultivate the next generation of AI researchers through PhD programs that involve both academic and industry training and collaboration.”

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