Biz / Tech

Midea bets on AI to drive business transform

Midea and other home appliance giants to showcase technologies on AWE 2018

Electronics giant Midea Group aims to boost development of artificial intelligence and industrial Internet to facilitate business tranform, the Shenzhen-listed firm said in Shanghai.

Midea has invested about 100 million yuan (US$15.4 million) annually to develop a special AI team in both Shenzhen and Silicon Valley. They work on adding connection and intelligence features in devices, from air conditioners, washing machines, electric rice cookers to water heaters. 

The company sells more than 300 million home appliance devices worldwide annually, offering a big enough database for it to develop AI, said Xu Chengmao, vice president of Midea Corporate Research Center.

“It’s a totally business transformation and upgrade for Midea to become a company focusing on ‘human-machine collaboration’ technology (from a home appliance maker only),” Xu said during an interview with Shanghai Daily yesterday.

The business transformation is supported by technologies including AI, cloud, robot and automation systems, said Midea.

Meanwhile, Midea will expand production capacity of Kuka’s robot plant in Shanghai in the second quarter to tap the booming smart manufacturing demand in China.

China’s market size of industrial robot is predicted to reach 1 million by 2025, of which the Chinese manufacturers like Midea to gain 50 percent market shares, said Olaf Gehrels, general manager of Midea Robotics Company.

Midea, listed in Shenzhen market with total value about 370 billion yuan now, surged more than 75 percent by the end of February from a year ago, after acquiring German robot giant Kuka and kicking off the research of various intelligent devices.

Home appliance giants including Midea, Haier and Sharp will showcase latest technologies in AWE 2018 (Appliance & Electronics World Expo 2018) opened today, the country’s biggest home appliance show held annually in Shanghai.

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