Winking, grimacing or nodding their heads, robots mimicked the expressions of visitors at a robot expo in Beijing.

They were among the creations dazzling people attending the annual World Robot Conference, where companies showed off robots designed for a wide range of uses, including manufacturing, surgery and companionship.

The animatronic heads and humanoid robots on display at the EX Robots booth this week personified the image of what robots are supposed to be in the popular imagination, with synthetic skin and lifelike facial expressions complimented by moving arms and hands.

humanoid robot A human-like robot performs near robots of faces that mimic human expressions during the annual World Robot Conference on the outskirts of Beijing on Aug. 17, 2023.  (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

remote-controlled robot dogs perform in China Visitors watch remote-controlled robotic dogs perform during China’s annual World Robot Conference at the Etrong International Exhibition and Convention Center on Aug. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Several human-size robots perform on stage Visitors watch human-size robots perform on stage during the annual World Robot Conference held on the outskirts of Beijing on Aug. 17, 2023.  (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

panda-shaped robot grabs soda A panda-like robot demonstrates its ability to grab a can of soda at the annual World Robot Conference near Beijing on Aug. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

CEO Li Boyang said they’re ideal for roles that require interacting with the public, such as in museums, tourist attractions, school settings and "companion scenarios."

Doggie droids — a mainstay of high tech fairs — were out in force. Canine robots shook hands with fairgoers and performed handstands on their front paws.

Elsewhere at the fair, robotic arms served Chinese tea, prepared ice cream cones, bounced ping pong balls and gave visitors back massages.

Harvesting robots demonstrated how they could pick apples off the branch, while an artist robot drew portraits of visitors.

Industrial robot arms for factory production lines also grabbed focus. One of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s goals is to move the country’s vast manufacturing sector away from low-cost creation of cheap goods into more high-tech production, and industrial robots will be an important element of that plan.

SHARE