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The robotics company Figure shows an AI robot that makes coffee because it has learned to do so simply by observing humans

Brett Adcock, CEO of Figure, says that this technology can be scaled for any application

  • The breakthrough innovation is that you can get human data for an application through observation & learning (making coffee, folding laundry, warehouse work, etc.)
  • There is a way to scale for every use case
  • As the robot fleet expands, more data is collected, retrained, and the robot achieves even better performance

Microsoft and OpenAI are reportedly in talks to invest as much as $500 million in humanoid robotics startup Figure AI.

The funding could raise Figure’s value to $1.9 billion, making it the first humanoid robotics unicorn. While the companies involved have not yet commented on the potential deal, humanoid robots are tapped as a significant source of investment interest in the next year as companies race to commercialize their designs. Figure emerged from stealth last March with its humanoid Figure 01, which the company says is the “world’s first commercially viable” humanoid robot.

Designed to meet ongoing global labor shortages, Figure 01 was developed to perform heavy-duty tasks around a manufacturing space, capable of carrying up to 44 pounds of payload, running for up to five hours on a single charge and autonomously navigating complex environments. In January, Figure signed a deal with BMW to deploy its general-purpose robots at the car manufacturer’s warehouses to automate  “difficult, unsafe or tedious” tasks. Figure will initially investigate how the robots should best be utilized before they’re officially deployed at BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina facility. Humanoid robotics competitors are all edging closer to commercialization. Agility Robotics signed a deal with Amazon to have their humanoid designs tested in Amazon warehouses and Apptronik recently announced a collaboration with NASA to commercialize its humanoid design, Apollo.

What started as a chatbot might end up as a robot. AI is moving fast from software applications like ChatGPT to physical applications like robots. According to a new report from Bloomberg, humanoid robot maker Figure AI is in talks with Microsoft and OpenAI to lead a funding round that could raise as much as $500 million, at a valuation of $1.9 billion.

If you haven’t followed our previous coverage of Figure and the robotics space, many in the field believe that 2024 will be the year that we see a significant breakthrough in robotics. Senior Research Scientist & Lead of AI Agents at Nvidia Jim Fan recently opined that we are on the cusp of a robotics breakthrough on the scale of ChatGPT, thanks to rapid recent progress in hardware and AI.

Figure AI calls itself “the first-of-its-kind AI robotics company bringing a general purpose humanoid to life.“ The company claims that its robots will help increase productivity, address labor shortages, and reduce the number of people in unsafe jobs. According to its website, the company wants to target three markets: physical labor, consumer household, and space exploration.

Other companies are also making rapid progress in the space. Tesla is working on a humanoid robot of its own called Optimus. And Norwegian robotics company 1X Technologies also announced a $100 million funding round earlier this month.

Information in this article was originally posted bySuperhuman Newsletter

Video: Figure-01 has learned to make coffee

 

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