Zhang Quanling, former China Central Television anchorwoman, interacts with the Greetbot developed by Cheetah Mobile in Beijing on Wednesday.
Intelligent robots are often pictured as omnipotent assistants in movies and fiction, but in reality, they are far away from people's daily lives due to technological deficiencies and extravagant prices.
A Chinese company is aiming to change that by bringing smart machines to companies and houses at affordable prices.
With about 2,999 yuan (5) per month, consumers can rent a smart robot produced by Cheetah Mobile Inc, best known for its utility apps in foreign countries. When consumers rent the robot for up to 18 months, at a total cost of about 54,000 yuan, they can keep the robot forever, for a price far lower than most rival products.
Cheetah Mobile claimed the robot, called "Greetbot", can serve as a security guard to patrol companies at night and automatically turn off all lights when employees are gone.
At the launch event, Greetbot showcased its ability to offer reception services to people who visit companies and hospitals. It can answer questions from human beings. More importantly, the robot can guide visitors to certain meeting rooms and when visitors stop midway, it will stop accordingly and suggest visitors to follow suit.
The robot is part of a broader product range Cheetah Mobile unveiled Wednesday night in Beijing, including an accompanying robot for children and a robotic arm that can make coffee.
The move showcased the company's determination to gain a presence in the booming sector. China is the world's largest market for industrial robots, and the aging population also creates a growing demand for service robots in the medical, healthcare, education and entertainment sectors.
China unveiled favorable policies in 2016, which stated its plan to triple annual production of industrial robots to 100,000 in five years and to sell more than 30 billion yuan's worth of service robots by 2020.
Fu Sheng, chairman and CEO of Cheetah Mobile, said despite intensifying competition the robotics industry still boasts tons of opportunities.
"Most companies are just assembling robots and few of their products are really helpful. We are rethinking what features are desired and which price range will be accepted by consumers," Fu said.
According to him, the company's years of experience in software and mobile apps can give it an advantage when building an integrated system to connect hardware and software.