Need help at home? Companion robots featured at electronics show

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In this image taken from video, the Canbot from Beijing’s Canny Unisrobo Technology Co. Ltd. perform at the Shanghai CES electronic show in Shanghai, China, Thursday, June 8, 2017. (AP Photo)

SHANGHAI — More than 50 companies are showcasing a new generation of robots at this week’s Shanghai CES electronics show, built to serve as companions at home, attendants at shopping malls or just provide entertainment.

Chinese companies including Shenzhen-based startup Aelos Robotic Inc. are displaying robots with heightened dexterity and skills.

Beijing’s Canny Unisrobo Technology Co. Ltd. is a pioneer in the field, with its Canbot, produced in co-operation with Microsoft, having entered mass production almost a decade ago.

Sales manager Zhang Jianting said Thursday that annual sales are about 150,000 units, with the home companion robots selling for $130 to $483 depending on size.

However, Zhang said the robot market is growing ever more crowded, with many more players entering this year alone.

“The robot market in China is increasingly diverse,” Zhang said. “However, there are still some rough edges in R&D and comprehensive abilities. Every company is at initial stage. We are still learning and making progress in terms of technology, R&D, and market.”

Artificial intelligence and virtual reality are also major features of the show, which features 400 exhibitors from 23 regions showing their innovations from June 7 to 9.

For John T. Kelly, the senior director of CES Asia, the participation of more Chinese companies at global electronics shows illustrates how China is shifting from a manufacturing economy to one based on innovation.

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