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Maker of Sophia the robot aims to produce ‘thousands’ more this year

By Ramla Soni

16:00, 25 January 2021

Sophia the robot

Hanson Robotics, the maker of a humanoid robot called Sophia, is aiming to produce “thousands” of robots by the end of the year, as researchers predict the pandemic will open new opportunities for the robotics industry.

The Hong Kong based company said four models, including Sophia, both large and small, would start rolling out of factories in the first half of 2021. 

No specific number of how many robots were to be produced was given.

“The world of Covid-19 is going to need more and more automation to keep people safe,” founder and chief executive David Hanson said.

He believes robots could be solutions amid the pandemic not only in the healthcare sector but could also assist customers in retail and airlines too. 

Hanson Robotics is launching a robot this year called Grace, developed for the healthcare sector. 

“Sophia and Hanson robots are unique by being so human-like,” Hanson said. “That can be so useful during these times where people are terribly lonely and socially isolated.” 

Social robotics professor Johan Hoorn, whose research has included work with Sophia, said that, although the technology is still in relative infancy, the pandemic could accelerate a relationship between humans and robots. 


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Products from other players in the robotics industry are also helping to fight the pandemic.

SoftBank Robotics’ Pepper robot was launched to detect people who weren’t wearing masks. In China, robotics company CloudMinds helped set up a robot-run field hospital during the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. 

According to a report by the International Federation of Robotics, worldwide sales of professional-service robots had jumped 32 per cent to $11.2bn (£8bn, €9.2bn) between 2018 and 2019. 

Sophia the robot was unveiled in 2016 and has since gained “viral” internet attention.

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