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London Tech Week

Microsoft, OpenAI to back $500M funding round of this AI-powered humanoid robot

Figure AI
Picture credits: Figure AI

The world of robotics has been evolving at an unprecedented pace, with humanoid robots at the forefront of this technological revolution. Several companies such as Boston Dynamics and Tesla have been making significant strides in the field of humanoid robotics. 

Recently, the Norwegian startup 1X Technologies, which is now headquartered in California and backed by OpenAI raised $100 million for its second-generation android robot NEO.

Now, a Bloomberg report points out that yet another US-based robotics competitor to Tesla Optimus is all set to receive a staggering $500 million in a funding round led by Microsoft and OpenAI.

As per the report, Microsoft is eyeing to invest nearly $95 million in the company. On the other hand, OpenAI, the company behind the sensational ChatGPT, is considering a $5 million investment. However, the investment amount might differ when it takes place. Furthermore, it is tipped that this round could value Figure AI at $1.9 billion.

Develops AI-powered humanoid 

Founded by Brett Adcock in 2022 in California, Figure AI disrupts the market for industrial robots by developing bipedal humanoid robots that can operate in the same spaces that humans can. To make workplaces safer, the company introduced Figure 01, an autonomous humanoid robot. The humanoid design would allow the robot to walk around warehouses and manufacturing floors and perform repetitive and unsafe activities that would otherwise fall to workers.

Figure 01 mimics the human form wherein hands allow it to open doors and use tools, arms and legs allow it to move efficiently, climb stairs, lift boxes, and more. It brings together the dexterity of the human form and cutting-edge AI to go beyond single-function robots and lend support across manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, and retail.

Partnership with BMW

Earlier this year, Figure AI joined hands with BMW to deploy its robots for automotive manufacturing where they would be used to automate difficult, unsafe, or tedious tasks. As per the deal, the German automaker will trial the robots in a South Carolina factory. Currently, 11,000 people are working at this factory. 

Figure AI, founder and CEO Brett Adcock said, “Today, we are seeing unprecedented labor shortages. There are over 10 million unsafe or undesirable jobs in the US alone, and an aging population will only make it increasingly difficult for companies to scale their workforces. As a result, the labor supply growth is set to flatline this century. If we want continued growth, we need more productivity — and this means more automation.”

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