Robotics

Innovation of week: OpenAI Teams Up with Startup to Develop Advanced AI Models for Humanoid Robots

In a significant move set to redefine robotics, OpenAI has forged a partnership with Figure, an AI-driven robotics startup, to pioneer advanced humanoid robots. This groundbreaking collaboration aims to leverage OpenAI’s formidable expertise in artificial intelligence (AI) and Figure’s innovative approach to robotics to create autonomous humanoid robots poised for commercial deployment.

Utilizing the robust AI infrastructure of Microsoft Azure, OpenAI seeks to revolutionize the capabilities of humanoid robots by continuously refining AI models tailored specifically for this purpose. With a focus on expediting Figure’s commercial trajectory, OpenAI intends to provide both investment and strategic guidance to propel the development of state-of-the-art robotic systems.

Peter Welinder, Vice President of Product and Partnerships at OpenAI, expressed enthusiasm for the partnership, highlighting the potential for humanoid robots to redefine everyday tasks. “We’ve always planned to come back to robotics and we see a path with Figure to explore what humanoid robots can achieve when powered by highly capable multimodal model,” said Welinder. “We’re impressed by Figure’s progress to date and eagerly anticipate collaborating to unlock new possibilities for how robots can assist in everyday life.”

The strategic collaboration between OpenAI and Figure has already yielded promising results, with Figure securing its inaugural commercial agreement with BMW Manufacturing. This landmark deal, inked in January 2024, paves the way for the integration of Figure’s humanoid robots into automotive manufacturing processes. Designed to tackle tasks that are arduous, hazardous, or repetitive for human workers, these robots are poised to revolutionize the efficiency and safety of industrial operations.

Brett Adcock, Founder and CEO of Figure, outlined the company’s vision for the future of robotics and AI. “Our vision at Figure is to bring humanoid robots into commercial operations as soon as possible. This investment, combined with our partnership with OpenAI and Microsoft, ensures that we are well-prepared to bring embodied AI into the world to make a transformative impact on humanity,” remarked Adcock. “AI and robotics are the future, and I am grateful to have the support of investors and partners who believe in being at the forefront.”

Figure’s recent achievement of securing $675 million in Series B funding underscores the immense potential and investor confidence in the company’s mission. This substantial investment, which includes contributions from prominent entities such as OpenAI, Startup Fund, Nvidia, and Jeff Bezos, attests to the widespread belief in Figure’s capacity to drive innovation in the field of robotics. With a valuation of $2.6 billion, Figure has rapidly emerged as a frontrunner in the realm of AI-driven robotics, signaling a transformative shift in the industry landscape.

As OpenAI and Figure forge ahead with their collaborative endeavors, the future of humanoid robots appears increasingly promising. By synergizing cutting-edge AI technologies with innovative robotic systems, this partnership holds the key to unlocking a new era of automation and efficiency, ultimately reshaping the way we interact with technology and augmenting human capabilities in diverse domains.

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