BMW has recently announced a partnership with Figure, marking their first collaboration since Figure’s establishment two years ago. The German automaker intends to conduct a controlled launch of humanoid robots in its production facilities, with the possibility of expanding to more units if certain performance targets are met. Initially, the humanoid robots will be introduced at the BMW facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which has a workforce of 11,000 employees.
The focus of this collaboration is to ensure that the robots are designed to work safely alongside humans. Tesla has also ventured into the field of humanoid robots, having introduced its Optimus bot a few years ago and unveiling an updated version in December. Tesla plans to utilize its in-house humanoid robot for assistance in electric vehicle production. Honda and Hyundai are other automakers that have explored the use of robots in their factories, particularly for dangerous tasks on assembly lines.
The underlying belief at Figure is that robots can help mitigate workforce shortages. On their website, Figure states that by having humanoid robots as part of their workforce, they will be able to increase productivity, address labor shortages, and minimize the number of workers in hazardous jobs. Moreover, Figure has a “Master Plan” similar to Tesla’s, where they outline three major business opportunities for humanoid robotics in the long term: Physical labor, Consumer Household, and Off-World, which involves utilizing robots for space exploration.
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