Sanbot is a humanoid robot with penguin flipper arms and a touchscreen heart

When I arrived at Qihan’s IFA booth, a rainbow-colored trio of Sanbots were performing choreographed moves to some unrecognizable pop song. Because, well, when you want to get people to stop at your both in the middle of a giant show full of gadgety distractions, you pull out all the stops.

The plucky little robot has flipper arms, a pair of wheels for feet and a body chock full of various sensors to help it perform a factotum of different jobs, from security guard to nursing home companion to educational assistant. According to the company, this iteration of Sanbot has already been deployed at various spots in China from retail establishments to airports.


Sanbot’s got a Kinect-style 3D camera and HD camera about its LED eyes, a touchscreen tablet in its chest and infrared sensors at its feet. The rear of its head houses an HD projector, while two speaker grilles and a subwoofer are built into its torso. The robot can be controlled via the tablet, an Android or iOS app, or it will simply take its AI marching orders from the cloud.


IFA marks Sanbot’s debut outside of China, with the company looking to find the robot some gigs in the European service industry – and honestly, the pricing isn’t crazy, at 45,000 yuan (around $6,000). The company will also be revealing an updated version of the robot with articulated hands in China later this month.


Meantime, do yourself a favor and watch this video, in which the appearance of “Temptation Sensation” (the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia theme song) is maybe the 8th or 9th strangest thing: