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Backed by Open AI, this Norweigian startup just raised $100M funding to bring humanoid robots into your living space

1X Technologies founder
Picture credits: 1X Technologies

Honda, SoftBank, Boston Dynamics, and Tesla stand out as prominent tech giants globally, recognised for their contributions to the development of futuristic humanoid robots. Despite the absence of European representation among these industry leaders, Europe is making significant strides in the field of service robots. Pal Robotics is a notable name, and more recently, the Norwegian-founded 1X Technologies (formerly known as Halodi Robotics) has been making headlines consistently since last year.

Now headquartered in Mountain View, California, the humanoid robotics company, has raised $100 million in Series B funding with participation from Swedish VC EQT Ventures (backed Generative Engineering and Qevlar AI recently). The secondary participants in the round included new investor Samsung NEXT, and existing investors Skagerak Capital and the Nistad group. As part of the round, existing investor Sandwater increased its stake with the third largest contribution to the round. 

This follows the $23.5 million in Series A2 funding it raised early last year from OpenAI and Tiger Global, 1X has now raised over $125 million in less than 12 months. This funding will support their mission to produce safe and advanced androids at a commercial scale, aiming to meet global labour demands and build an abundant society. 

In addition to this, the funds will also support 1X’s existing enterprise clients in logistics and guarding. With 1X offering an android safe to work among people and a new approach to embodied learning for data collection, the company stands at the forefront of AI robotics. 

Android NEO: 2nd gen humanoid robot 

1X Technologies has a mission to design androids that collaborate seamlessly with humans to address the global labour demand and foster an abundant society, and has successfully ventured into security and logistics. With the latest funding round, the company is gearing up to make a significant leap into the consumer market. 

The robotics firm intends to use the new capital to bring its second-generation Android NEO. Designed as a bipedal humanoid, NEO is tailored for everyday home assistance, offering versatile support for a wide range of domestic tasks in the consumer market. 

Standing at 165 cm tall and weighing 30 kilograms, NEO mirrors the average height and weight of a human. Its range of motions matches ours, equipped with fully dexterous hands capable of lifting up to 75 kilograms in a deadlift or squat.

The company claims, what sets NEO apart from other humanoid robots is its soft and inherently safe design. Unlike industrial machines, NEO lacks pinch-points or potential hazards, aligning with our commitment to deploy a secure and user-friendly Android to consumers. This emphasis on safety is integral to realising our vision of introducing a reliable and practical android into everyday life.

Its body is engineered with muscle-like anatomy instead of rigid hydraulics so they’re strong and gentle like we are. NEO has a head, torso, arms, and legs, just like us, so they can interact with the world in a way that feels familiar to us; they’ll walk, grab things, and communicate through facial expressions.

While NEO can be used in sectors, including security, logistics, manufacturing, operating machinery, and handling complex tasks, its long term vision is to provide valuable home assistance and perform chores like cleaning or organising.

1X is also looking into how NEO can offer support to individuals with mobility challenges, fetching items and providing companionship. NEO’s potential also extends to research, helping the robotics community to explore fields like psychology and artificial intelligence. 

Commenting on the NEO, Hege stated: “NEO weighs 30 kg and is 165 cm tall, about the average height of a human. It has the same range of motions as us, full dexterous hands, and can lift 75 kg in a deadlift or squat. What makes NEO unique among humanoid robots is that it is not an industrial machine; It’s soft like us, light and inherently safe, with no pinch-points or other hazards, which is crucial for us to pursue our vision of deploying safe and useful Android to consumers.”

While the company’s EVE android is currently working in logistics and guarding serving the enterprise market, NEO will be introduced into domestic environments, entering the household market first. It is on a fast track to market release and will be launched and available for consumers to pre-order within a short time.

Is it a Tesla Bot rival?

This new humanoid – NEO will be a rival to Elon Musk’s Tesla Bot, which will be specifically designed to do dangerous, repetitive or boring work that humans don’t like or want to do. Notably, the Tesla Bot will be made of lightweight materials and will have a screen on its face to show relevant information, human-level hands, and 40 mechanical actuators. 

While Tesla plans to start selling its humanoid bots by 2027, the launch of 1X NEO will help it tap into the domestic market soon. 

Humanoids to address the labour demand

Founded by Bernt Øyvind Børnich in 2014, 1X is an engineering and robotics company producing androids capable of human-like movements and behaviours. Ever since watching the Honda Asimo Project as a child, 1X’s founder and CEO, Bernt Øivind Børnich was fascinated with humanoid robotics. He realised that the key to successful humanoid robots isn’t just advanced AI; it’s also about understanding the dynamics of human movement. 

Unlike traditional approaches that adapt industrial robots, 1X started from scratch with a bio-inspired design. With this approach, it has built android robots that learn with less data and safely interact in human environments. Its the robot, named EVE, has manipulators which can pick up objects and pack and unpack boxes and is designed to work alongside human beings.

Furthermore, Hege added, “1X’s mission is to design androids that work alongside people to meet the world’s labor demand and build an abundant society. Thus far, we’ve been doing that in security and moving into logistics, but with this funding round, the big one is going to be our efforts in the consumer market. That way we can all have an android at home that can help us with our everyday tasks, like laundry, tidying, and a lot of domestic tasks that haven’t been made more efficient in the last – let’s say – fifty years. We believe that by significantly increasing the availability of labor, we boost productivity, a key factor in creating a modern world where people have a better quality of life. Our focus is on ensuring that the deployment of androids contributes positively to society as a whole.”

“From Leonardo da Vinci to today’s sci-fi, humans have dreamt of humanoid robots for more than 500 years. It’s a privilege to witness the enabling technologies form in front of our eyes, in real-time. The impact of androids joining our human workforce, on our terms will be transformative (to say the least). We’re convinced 1X with their NEO androids will play a crucial role in the pioneering steps towards the first forays of our technological and human future,” said Ted Persson, Partner, EQT Ventures.

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