Chinese real estate giant Country Garden recently announced plans to build a 10-square-kilometre (3.9-square-mile) industrial park through its wholly owned subsidiary Bright Dream Robotics, according to Yicai.com. The Robot Valley project will be located in the southern Guangdong city of Foshan.
Foshan-based Country Garden promised to invest at least RMB 80 billion ($11.7 billion) into the research and development facility in the city’s Shunde district within the next five years, the company’s founder and chairman Yang Guoqiang said at the signing ceremony co-hosted by the district government.
According to the plan reached between the developer and the Shunde government, Bright Dream Robotics, a subsidiary of Country Garden, will be involved in construction, interior decoration, restaurants, smart houses, healthcare, logistics and agriculture.
Country Garden Prepares for Robotics Spinoff
Country Garden first revealed plans for a robotics business in its August interim report, specifying that it would consider spinning off the company if the project is successful.
The new high tech business “will focus on core robotic technologies and develop intelligent manufacturing through research on and development of the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing and big data platforms that can support the development of the group’s real estate-related businesses and increase automation,” China’s largest developer said in the report.
High Tech Company Secures Suzhou Land
Nearly a year has passed since Country Garden started moving into the high-tech and robotics industries. Last October, Country Garden’s Jiangsu office signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Suzhou Pangolin Robot Corp. The Suzhou tech company reportedly manufactures 50,000 robots every year, which are used for food delivery, hostessing and making coffee.
The robot producer’s status as a new technology company will help Country Garden acquire land for its sci-tech towns in Jiangsu Province, according to local media reports. In return, Country Garden will choose Pangolin’s products and services in preference to those of other companies. The two sides will also establish an industrial fund to support the development of robotics technologies.
Apart from the Jiangsu business, in last November, Yang Guoqiang has also reached partnership with Foshan-based electrical appliance manufacturer Midea, which also specializes in robotics and automation and reported RMB 27 billion in revenue from these businesses last year. The companies plan to jointly launch an unmanned factory in the future, but no timeline has been announced.
“Country Garden hopes to cooperate with the world’s top universities and research institutions to build a world-class robot base and contribute to national intelligent manufacturing,” Yang said at the signing ceremony. Since the start of recruitment in July, Bright Dream Robotics Valley has attracted more than 70 experts from Oxford, Columbia, and well-known domestic technology schools the University of Science and Technology of China and Beihang University, according to the local media account.
Yang is also planning to open fully automated Cantonese restaurants focusing on Shunde cuisine using a catering service operated by the company’s robotics business.
China Want to Catch the Robot Wave
“China has become the world’s largest industrial automation market, but when it comes to core components, domestic firms are highly dependent on imports,” executive vice president of Bright Dream Robotics Liang Yanxue said in an interview with local media the Paper.
With 72 robots per 10,000 employees in its manufacturing industry in 2016, China lags behind the global average. According to numbers from The Robot Report, the average global robot density was 74 industrial robots per 10,000 employees, while the South Korea ranked first with 631 robots. Singapore and Germany followed with 488 and 309 robots respectively.
To accelerate robotics development, the Chinese government has published several ambitious plans in recent years. Most notably, robotics are on of 10 manufacturing sectors China seeks to improve through its Made in China 2025 initiative, a strategic plan issued by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his cabinet in May 2015.
The government also launched the Robotics Industry Development Plan in 2016 to support research and development of robotics industry. The plan aims to help China achieve domestic production of 100,000 industrial robots annually by 2020.
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