Chinese company says its low-cost alternative to Boston Dynamics' Spot could provide mobile manipulation for various applications.

While Boston Dynamics' Spot is arguably the best-known quadruped robot in the world, challengers are inevitable. Unitree Technology Co. today announced the launch of the robotic arm Z1, which it mounted on its AlienGo legged robot.

“The robotic arm is currently in a stage of rapid development with the evolution and direction of technology,” stated Wang Xingxing, CEO of Unitree Robotics. “We hope that it will enter our lives immediately.”

He acknowledged the challenge of building an affordable and commercially useful system. “The current problem is cost control and the improvement of intelligence,” said Wang Xingxing, who revealed his Xdog design in 2016.

Unlike Boston Dynamics' Spot, which costs about $75,000 (U.S.) and are being trialed in applications ranging from construction to security, Unitree's quardrupeds reportedly cost less than $10,000.

The Hangzhou, China-based company, which was founded in 2013, released its Go1 robot, which costs $2,700, in June 2021.


Unitree develops lightweight robot arm

For mobile manipulation to be viable, robot arms need to be lighter, more cost-effective, and safer than their cousins in heavy industry. Unitree said its new Z1 robot arm can move smoothly and pick up small objects, open doors, fasten screws, and even pour a glass of wine.

The company said its collaborative robot arm has potential industrial, retail service, and consumer applications.

“With it, the omnipotent robot dog is even more powerful,” the company claimed. “As time goes by, the combination of robot dog and collaborative robotics arm can do more and more things.”

Unitree said it is working on the combination of the Z1 with its AlienGo and ruggedized B1 legged robots, and it is developing and complying with industry standards.

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