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Updated January 19th, 2024 at 11:15 IST

Humanoid startup Figure partners with BMW to deploy robots

This marks the AI-robotics company's first commercial deal to be inked since it was founded in 2022

Business Desk
Figure inks partnership with BMW to deploy humanoid robots
Figure inks partnership with BMW to deploy humanoid robots | Image:BMW Group
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Humanoid Robot: The robotics startup Figure said it has signed a partnership with BMW Manufacturing to deploy its humanoid robots in the car maker's facility in the US, as more companies turn to human-like robots to take on specific physical tasks.

This marks the AI-robotics company's first commercial deal to be inked since it was founded in 2022.

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While the AI startup firm didn't disclose how many robots BMW will be using, the partnership will start with small quantities and expand if performance targets are met, as per a statement of Brett Adcock, Chief Executive at Figure.

Image credit: BMW Group 

Figure's humanoids will be deployed in BMW's manufacturing facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the largest automotive exporter in the US, which currently employees 11,000 personnel.

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They will be integrated into the manufacturing processes including the body shop, sheet metal and warehouse in the next 12-24 months, after being trained to perform specific tasks.

"We have designed the robot to be safe next to humans. Working with BMW on automation in a manufacturing facility is a huge validator for us in the space," Adcock said.

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Image credit: BMW Group 

The automotive makers such as Honda and Hyundai have been experimenting with humanoid robots to perform repetitive and dangerous work in assembly lines for a considerable duration.

Recently, Tesla released its latest humanoid in development, Optimus Gen 2, meanwhile, Elon Musk predicted a billion humanoid robots on earth in the 2040s.

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General-purpose humanoid robots with AI-powered software have received renewed interest from investors as they have the potential to move in a wide range of motion and learn to perform new tasks like human beings do.

Presently, robots in use are usually created for specific tasks, and it is not clear if a more flexible robot will be able to perform a an array of services will prove viable in a real-life environment.

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Sunnyvale, California-based Figure has raised $70 million from investors last year, led by Parkway Venture at a valuation of more than $400 million.

(With Reuters Inputs)

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Published January 18th, 2024 at 18:33 IST

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