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BMW Teams Up with Humanoid Startup Figure to Compete with Tesla's Robot

BMW Manufacturing has partnered with robotics startup Figure to deploy humanoid robots in its U.S. facility. The partnership will begin with a small quantity of robots and expand based on performance targets. The humanoid robots will be integrated into BMW's manufacturing processes over the next 12-24 months.

In a bid to enhance automation in its manufacturing processes, BMW Manufacturing has partnered with robotics startup Figure to deploy humanoid robots in its facility in the United States. This collaboration marks Figure's first commercial deal since its establishment in 2022. While the exact number of robots to be used by BMW remains undisclosed, the partnership will commence with a small quantity and expand based on performance targets.


The humanoid robots developed by Figure will be integrated into BMW's manufacturing facility located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. This facility is the largest automotive exporter in the U.S. and currently employs around 11,000 individuals. Over the next 12-24 months, the robots will be trained to perform specific tasks and will be deployed in various areas such as the body shop, sheet metal, and warehouse.


Brett Adcock, the CEO of Figure, expressed his excitement about the collaboration, stating, "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." This partnership highlights the growing trend of companies turning to human-like robots to handle physical tasks.


Automakers like Honda and Hyundai have been exploring the use of humanoid robots in assembly lines for repetitive and hazardous work for several years. Tesla, a prominent player in the industry, recently unveiled its latest humanoid robot, Optimus Gen 2, with CEO Elon Musk predicting the presence of a billion humanoid robots on Earth by the 2040s.

Investors have shown renewed interest in general-purpose humanoid robots equipped with artificial intelligence-powered software. These robots have the potential to mimic human motion and learn new tasks. However, it remains uncertain whether a more versatile robot capable of performing a wide range of services will prove viable in real-life scenarios. Currently, most robots are designed for specific tasks.


Figure, headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, successfully raised $70 million from investors last year, with Parkway Venture leading the funding round. The company's valuation exceeded $400 million, reflecting the confidence investors have in the potential of humanoid robots.

 
  • BMW Manufacturing has partnered with robotics startup Figure to deploy humanoid robots in its U.S. facility.

  • The partnership will begin with a small quantity of robots and expand based on performance targets.

  • The humanoid robots will be integrated into BMW's manufacturing processes over the next 12-24 months.\


Source: REUTERS

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