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Banbros tests local market for humanoid robots

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Alpha 1 Pro
Alpha 1 Pro

A LOCAL electronics distributor is bringing humanoid robots to the Philippines, a move that will test the market if it will warm up to the idea of having robots in their household.

At the World of Consumer Electronics Expo (WOCEE) in Pasay City on Sept. 23, Banbros Commercial, Inc., a distributor of computer and audio-visual products, showcased humanoid robots manufactured by Chinese robot maker UBTECH.

“Robotics is very new in the Philippines on the retail level. But on the education level, a lot of schools have already integrated coding in their curriculum so robots are not new even to children as young as 8-14 years old,” said Banbros president Michael W. Bangayan.

By teaming up with UBTECH, one of China’s largest manufacturers of robots, Banbros hopes to make robots become mainstream electronics products, just like smartphones. UBTECH products include the Jimu Robot, which is designed to teach children how to design, build and code , and the Alpha 1 robot, a programmable humanoid robot that can dance, do yoga and even play sports.

astrobot-jimu-ubtech
AstroBot Kit

Mr. Bangayan said Banbros is initially rolling out approximately 1,000 UBTECH units, which will be distributed via Banbros’s retail channels.

“It’s not a big number because we wanted to try it on the retail level first. [Robots are] very new and we would like to see more people getting comfortable into buying robots on a retail channel,” Mr. Bangayan added.

The company is also hoping to tap into the Department of Education’s (DepEd) push for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, which UBTECH’s Jimu robots are designed to promote.

“We’ve been increasing [in terms of revenues] for about 30% for on a yearly basis. Our target for FY 2018 is another 20-30% [increase], which why we keep on getting new products. Robotics is certainly very new to us; we’re still on a learning curve so hopefully the robotic division will also grow,” he said. — MBG


CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the surname of Banbros President Michael W. Bangayan. It was “Bangayan” not “Bayangan”. 

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