Meet the humanoids: 8 robots ready to revolutionize work

These AI bots backed by OpenAI, Tesla, and Amazon could be your new coworkers.
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In 2015, Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, asserted that we were on the brink of a “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” one powered by a fusion of technologies, such as advanced robotics, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things.

“[This revolution] will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another,” wrote Schwab in an essay published in Foreign Affairs. “In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.”

The recent surge of developments in AI and robotics — and their deployment into the workforce — seems right in line with his predictions, although almost ten years on.

“We see a future where general-purpose robots are as ubiquitous as cars, helping people to do work that needs doing.”

Geordie Rose

While robots have been in factories for decades, they’ve traditionally been purpose-built to automate just one task — a robotic arm might be added to the assembly line at an auto factory to weld two parts together over and over again, for example.

Humanoids are robots that mimic the size, shape, and capabilities of people. That would make them a perfect physical fit for any workspace.

In theory, anyway.

Actually building a robot with all the physical capabilities of a human worker has been a huge engineering challenge — human hands alone have more than two dozen degrees of freedom. Even if developers get the body right, the machine still needs the “brains” to learn how to do all of the constantly changing tasks in a dynamic work environment.

Thanks to advances in robotics and AI, though, several companies have recently unveiled humanoid robots they believe meet the brief, or will in the near future. Here’s a recap of those robots, what they can do, and, in some cases, where they are already working alongside people.

Lineup of various humanoid robotics models, each differentiated by design and size with specifications listed below, against a dark background.
Freethink / Jacob Hege

1X Technologies: Eve

1X Technologies' humanoid robot Eve. It looks like it rolls on two wheels and has a friendly face.
1X Technologies
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 189 lbs
  • Walking speed: None (but it rolls up to 8.9 mph)
  • Carrying capacity: 33 lbs
  • Runtime: 6 hours

Quick recap: Norwegian startup 1X Technologies (previously “Halodi Robotics”) unveiled Eve in 2019. The humanoid rolls around on wheels and can be controlled remotely or allowed to operate autonomously.

Claim to fame: Already available for purchase.

Use cases: In May 2023, 1X CEO Bernt Bornich told the Daily Mail that Eve had already been deployed as a security guard at two industrial sites. The company also envisions the robot being used in retail and logistics.

Looking ahead: 1X has raised more than $125 million since March 2023, with OpenAI among its investors, and it is currently developing its next-gen humanoid, Neo, which is expected to be bipedal.

What they’re saying: “Many human qualities are near impossible to replicate, so while labor as we imagine it today might change, 1X believes that androids will create new opportunities for everyone’s benefit.” – 1X Technologies 

Agility Robotics: Digit

Agility Robotics' humanoid robot Digit. It is mostly team and black, and has a white, rectangular head with large lights for eyes
Agility Robotics
  • Height: 5’ 9”
  • Weight: 140 lbs
  • Walking speed: 3.3 mph
  • Carrying capacity: 35 lbs
  • Runtime: Unknown

Quick recap: Oregon-based Agility Robotics unveiled its first version of Digit in 2019, which was essentially a torso and arms on top of Cassie, the company’s robotic legs. In 2023, it revealed the fourth version of Digit, which featured a head and updated hands.

Claim to fame: Amazon’s main horse in the humanoid race.

Use cases: Digit’s first job was for Ford, which tested the robot for last-mile deliveries in 2019. In 2023, Amazon began trialing the robots at its warehouses, where they primarily move empty totes, and GXO Logistics started using them to fulfill orders for Spanx at an Atlanta facility.

Looking ahead: In September 2023, Agility announced that it had already begun constructing a manufacturing plant capable of making more than 10,000 Digit robots every year. It expects to open that facility in 2024.

What they’re saying: “We look forward to Digit augmenting workforces, taking on the ‘dull, dirty, and dangerous’ tasks, and allowing people to focus on more creative and complex work. We like to think of Digit as enabling humans to be more human.” – CEO Damion Shelton

Apptronik: Apollo

Apptronik's humanoid robot Apollo. It is mostly white and light gray with a friendly face
  • Height: 5’8”
  • Weight: 160 lbs
  • Walking speed: Unknown
  • Carrying capacity: 55 lbs
  • Runtime: 4 hours 

Quick recap: Since spinning out of the University of Texas at Austin in 2016, Apptronik has developed a range of robots, including exoskeletons and robotic arms. Its general purpose humanoid, Apollo, was unveiled in August 2023. 

Claim to fame: The robot that NASA could (maybe) one day put on Mars.

Use cases: In March 2024, Mercedes-Benz announced plans to deploy Apollo robots at a manufacturing facility, and Apptronik says it envisions the bot being used in “construction, oil and gas, electronics production, retail, home delivery, elder care, and countless more areas.”

Looking ahead: Mercedes and Apptronik are currently exploring applications for Apollo at a manufacturing facility in Hungary. Apptronik is also working with long-time backer NASA on adapting Apollo and other humanoids for space missions, where they could assist astronauts. 

What they’re saying: “People don’t want to do robotic, physically demanding work in tough conditions and they shouldn’t have to. Humanoid robots are not just an answer to this challenge, they are a necessity.” – CEO Jeff Cardenas

Boston Dynamics: Electric Atlas

Boston Dynamics' humanoid robot Atlas standing in a room. It has a glowing blue circle for a head
Boston Dynamics
  • Height: Unknown
  • Weight: Unknown
  • Walking speed: Unknown
  • Carrying capacity: Unknown
  • Runtime: Unknown

Quick recap: MIT-spinout Boston Dynamics is one of the biggest names in robotics, in large part thanks to popular videos featuring its robot dog Spot and parkour-loving humanoid Atlas robot. In April 2024, it retired the long-suffering, hydraulic-powered Atlas and debuted a commercial-ready, all-electric version.

Claim to fame: Killer dance moves (and setting the bar in robotics).

Use cases: Details on the electric Atlas are scarce, but what we do know is that it was built for “real-world applications” — unlike the hydraulic Atlas, which was strictly an R&D platform — and that Boston Dynamics plans to start exploring those applications at a Hyundai manufacturing facility (Hyundai owns Boston Dynamics).

Looking ahead: Boston Dynamics told IEEE Spectrum it is targeting 2025 for “proof of technology testing” at the Hyundai factory. The company also plans to partner with a handful of customers to test other applications for Atlas over the next few years.

What they’re saying: “In the months and years ahead, we’re excited to show what the world’s most dynamic humanoid robot can really do — in the lab, in the factory, and in our lives.” – Boston Dynamics

Figure AI: Figure 01

Figure AI's humanoid robot Figure 01. It is mostly made of shiny chrome
Figure AI
  • Height: 5’6”
  • Weight: 132 lbs
  • Walking speed: 2.6 mph
  • Carrying capacity: 44 lbs
  • Runtime: 5 hours

Quick recap: In March 2023, AI robotics company Figure AI emerged from stealth with Figure 01, which it calls “the world’s first commercially viable general purpose humanoid robot.” In March 2024, the company demoed the bot’s ability to not only perform useful tasks but also talk to humans — and explain why it’s doing what it’s doing.

Claim to fame: OpenAI’s main horse in the humanoid race.

Use cases: Figure 01 was designed to work in a range of industries, starting with manufacturing, warehousing, logistics, and retail. In January 2024, Figure announced the bots’ first deployment at a BMW manufacturing plant.

Looking ahead: In February 2024, Figure announced that it had raised $675 million from investors including OpenAI, Microsoft, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — that money is expected to accelerate the commercial deployment of Figure 01.

What they’re saying: “Single-purpose robotics have saturated the commercial market for decades, but the potential of general purpose robotics is completely untapped. Figure’s robots will enable companies to increase productivity, reduce costs, and create a safer and more consistent environment.” – CEO Brett Adcock

Sanctuary AI: Phoenix

Sanctuary AI's humanoid robot Phoenix. It is mostly black and dark gray and on a black background
Sanctuary AI
  • Height: 5’7”
  • Weight: 155 lbs
  • Walking speed: 3 mph
  • Carrying capacity: 55 lbs
  • Runtime: Unknown

Quick recap: Canada-based Sanctuary AI is on a mission to create “the world’s first human-like intelligence in general purpose robots.” To do that, it is developing Carbon, an AI control system for robots, and in May 2023, it unveiled Phoenix, its sixth-gen robot and first humanoid equipped with Carbon.

Claim to fame: Industry-leading robotic hands, with 20 degrees of freedom.

Use cases: Sanctuary’s goal is for Phoenix to be able to do nearly any task a human can do, in the environment they’d normally do it. In April 2024, it announced that it would be pilot testing Phoenix with auto parts manufacturer Magna, one of its investors.

Looking ahead: Sanctuary and Magna haven’t said how many robots they plan to include in the pilot test or how long they expect it to last, but if it goes well, Magna would presumably be one of the company’s first customers.

What they’re saying: “We designed Phoenix to be the most sensor-rich and physically capable humanoid ever built … We see a future where general-purpose robots are as ubiquitous as cars, helping people to do work that needs doing, in cases where there simply aren’t enough people to do that work.” – CEO Geordie Rose

Tesla: Optimus Gen 2

Tesla's humanoid robot Optimus on a gray background. It is leaning slightly to the left
  • Height: 5’8”
  • Weight: 138 lbs
  • Walking speed: 1.3 mph
  • Carrying capacity: 45 lbs
  • Runtime: Unknown

Quick recap: In 2021, CEO Elon Musk used the last moments of Tesla’s first AI Day to announce plans to build a humanoid Tesla Bot, aka Optimus. In December 2023, Tesla unveiled the latest version of the robot, which features upgrades to its hands, walking speed, and more.

Claim to fame: Elon Musk and Tesla.

Use cases: Musk says the goal is for Optimus to be able to perform tasks that are “boring, repetitive, and dangerous,” and given all the interest in humanoids for auto manufacturing, it’s hard to imagine Tesla wouldn’t deploy the robots at its own factories.  

Looking ahead: Recent job postings suggest that Optimus may soon be ready for field tests, and in January 2024, Musk told investors there’s a “good chance” Tesla will be ready to start shipping Optimus bots to customers in 2025, but he is notoriously optimistic about timelines.

What they’re saying: “Tesla’s arguably already the biggest robot maker in the world. It’s the most sophisticated humanoid robot that’s been developed anywhere in the world.” – CEO Elon Musk

Unitree Robotics: H1

Unitree Robotics' humanoid H1. The robot is mostly black and standing with one foot stepped forward
Unitree Robotics
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 103 lbs
  • Walking speed: 7.4 mph
  • Carrying capacity: Unknown
  • Runtime: Unknown

Quick recap: Chinese company Unitree had already brought several robotic arms and quadrupeds to market by the time it unveiled H1, its first general purpose humanoid, in August 2023.

Claim to fame: Fastest full-sized humanoid in the world, as of March 2024.

Use cases: H1 doesn’t have hands, so applications that require finger dexterity are out of the question, at least for this version, and while Unitree hasn’t speculated about future uses, its emphasis on the robot’s mobility suggests it’s targeting applications where the bot would walk around a lot, such as security or inspections.

Looking ahead: At the time of H1’s unveiling, Unitree said it was developing “flexible fingers” for the robot as an add-on option and that it was targeting a surprisingly low $90,000 price point. It also said it didn’t expect H1 to be ready for 3-10 years, but it has been regularly sharing video updates on its development, and the robot is already listed for sale on its website.

What they’re saying: “[H1 is] the first full-size general-purpose humanoid robot that can run in China. Possessing a stable gait and highly flexible movement capabilities, it is able to walk and run autonomously in complex terrains and environments.” – Unitree

The big picture

These and other general purpose humanoids have the potential to one day free humanity from the dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs that can make us dread Mondays at best and lead to us getting hurt at worst.

They also have the potential to increase job losses and income inequality, though, which is why it’s vital that society adopt these technologies in a responsible way that ensures we all benefit from them — not just those who own the robots and the places where they work.

“Neither technology nor the disruption that comes with it is an exogenous force over which humans have no control,” as WEF’s Schwab wrote nine years ago. “All of us are responsible for guiding its evolution, in the decisions we make on a daily basis as citizens, consumers, and investors.”

“We should thus grasp the opportunity and power we have to shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution and direct it toward a future that reflects our common objectives and values…There has never been a time of greater promise, or one of greater potential peril,” he continued.

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