Watch: Figure’s humanoid robot just learned something new

The startup is about to get a huge influx of cash from OpenAI, Jeff Bezos, and others.

Figure AI just demonstrated its humanoid robot’s newest skills — and this is one that could be particularly useful in the workplace. 

The promise: In March 2023, Figure AI emerged from stealth to announce Figure 01, a general purpose humanoid robot it claimed would one day free us from having to work unsafe or undesirable jobs.

“This humanoid will have the ability to think, learn, and interact with its environment,” wrote Figure.

The progress: At the time, Figure AI wasn’t ready to share anything more than pictures of its bot, but since then, it has released a couple of videos of Figure 01 walking and making coffee. It has even inked a deal to deploy the robots at a BMW manufacturing plant.

Figure AI has now shared a video showing its humanoid robot completing a fully autonomous “real world task.” The bot picks a bin off a stack and deposits it on a conveyor belt several feet away — the kind of job someone might do in a warehouse or distribution center. 

Looking ahead: Figure AI may soon have a lot more money to invest in developing its humanoid robot. On February 23, Bloomberg reported that the startup is expected to close a $675 million funding round any day now, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.

Microsoft is expected to lead the round, with a $95 million investment, while OpenAI will throw in $5 million. Other noteworthy contributors include Jeff Bezos’ Explore Investments firm ($100 million), Nvidia ($50 million), Intel ($25 million), and Samsung ($5 million).

“This humanoid will have the ability to think, learn, and interact with its environment.”

Figure AI

The big picture: We’ve designed our workplaces around the human body, so modeling robots after us makes sense if we want them to take over some of our jobs or work with humans. However, human bodies are incredibly complex and powerful, and replicating them with metal, wire, and batteries is a huge engineering challenge.

The list of companies trying to develop a humanoid robot is long, though — Apptronik, Agility Robotics, Sanctuary AI, Tesla, and many more — and if any of them succeeds, it could forever change the world of work.

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