Fourier Intelligence GR-1 is an impressive humanoid robot to compete with TeslaBot

    There’s a lot of hype about humanoid robots right now and while one company is taking most of the attention, they’re not the only game in town. Fourier Intelligence is a China-based technology company that started back in 2015 and focused on exoskeleton tech that enabled people to walk again. Fast forward to 2021 and they started to get serious about robotics.

    The company makes a general-purpose robot known as the Fourier GR-1. This robot features some interesting specs.

    The robot weighs 55kg, is 165cm tall and capable of moving at a pace of 5km/hr. At this point, we have to compare this to the Teslabot, which when announced, was listed with the following specs. The Tesla bot is 7cm taller at 172.72cm, it’s just a little heavier at 56.69 kilograms and is capable of the same 5km/hr walking speed.

    Given the similarity of specs, this may be the closest competition yet, but there is a lot we don’t know about how the robot can learn skills and the path to commercial and consumer applications.

    Strangely the company has just 2 videos on YouTube and just a couple of thousand views. The Tweet I came across last night from Tony Zhao, now has 437k views.

    In 2 minute video, we see the humanoid robot taking shape over the past couple of years. There’s a demonstration of the legs, finished in polished aluminium, lifting barbels of weights, showcasing how powerful the actuators are. Next, we see the leg strike downwards with force, enough to break a piece of wood.

    We then get more video clips from the test and development phase of the humanoid robot, with the now common tethered walking as the company trains the robot to walk. If you look carefully in the background, you can see an engineer using an Xbox controller to drive the legs, while another has his finger hovering over an emergency stop button.

    The detailed arms are then shown, with many actuators positioned at 90 degrees to each other in an effort to achieve the amazing rotation we have in our shoulders, arms, elbows and wrists.

    We are then taking to video from 2022, where the robot has evolved. The robot now features a more complete look, there’s now a fully formed head, and chest protection, which houses the brains of the robot. There are also now hands on the robot, however, these are claw-style hands for gripping, holding and moving objects, obviously lacking the dexterity of another Texas-born humanoid.

    The robot is seen running and while it has a safety rope, but does appear to be able to run on its own at a fairly decent clip. We then see a demonstration of the robot’s stability and counter-balancing abilities. Pushed with force, the robot successfully compensated and took a step back, rather than falling over, showing some intelligence.

    The reason humanoid robots are so exciting is their ability to perform tasks that humans typically do but perform boring and unsafe tasks without impacts on real humans. There are obvious economic opportunities here if the workloads that we currently spend human labor on, can be replaced by robots.

    We see the robot (still in 2022), having progressed to lifting a water bottle into a tub. While there are probably not too many water bottles that need to go in tubs, it does show rapid progress in under 12 months.

    The robot then performs a breakdance move, rotating its arms in a rolling wave from right to left, showing how dexterous the movements are with as many as 40 joints.

    By 2023, things got awesome. The robot is now black, standing in front of a series of 3D printers. The robot now features hands, with individual fingers and everything looks more refined. The robot is then seen walking with purpose through the foyer of Fourier Intelligence.

    We then get further examples of where the progress is, with engineers getting the robot to walk over an uneven floor successfully. It is not clear how the robot does this, but we can assume sensors allowed the robot to determine it needed to raise its foot to avoid tripping.

    Perhaps the most impressive part of the video for me is when they again push the robot, but this time it accommodates a number of smaller steps and adjustments by the body angles to counter the momentum induced by the push. This looks far more human-like than much of the earlier movement.

    The video ends with some renders, indicating where they expect the robot to evolve in the future.

    It’s not clear if Fourier Intelligence is using computer vision alone for their electric-powered robot, but in some of the shots, we get a glimpse of a camera array in the head of the robot.

    While it may be some time before the GR-1 is deployed for real-world tasks, they appear to be much further along the development path of a humanoid robot, than someone like Boston Dynamics, an impressive feat for sure. This is one company we’ll be watching with interest.

    Credit to Tony Zhao for bringing this to our attention.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021


    1. The problem before this company of robots is simply having enough resources to build enough robots to establish a fleet of robots to establish the database to advance the control system. They need someone with deep pockets.

    2. Why insist on humanoid shapes, when robots can be made in any design to meet a practical purpose? Same old conventional thinking about what a robot is.

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