Figure: The Robotics Company With Backing from AI Giants

Figure seeks to be the first of its kind, aiming to bring a general purpose humanoid robot to life with the power of AI (Image: Figure)
Humanoid robot company Figure AI has been successful in gaining a valuation of of US$2.6bn, after NVIDIA, Microsoft and Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos invest

Figure, the start-up keen to develop humanoid robots, has raised US$675m in a funding round from a range of investors, including leading AI figures NVIDIA, Microsoft and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

The companies join other investors such as OpenAI, who has signed a collaboration with Figure to develop generative AI (Gen AI) for its humanoid robots. The ChatGPT business has already expressed enthusiasm for working with a robotics company, hoping to “explore what humanoid robots can achieve when powered by highly capable multi-modal models,” according to VP of Product and Partnerships at OpenAI, Peter Welinder.

With continued advances in Gen AI driving advances in Robotic Process Automation (RPA), transformation is starting to be actualised in the business robotics landscape.

LLM use within robotics set to boom

The launch of large language models (LLM) models like ChatGPT has generated huge business interest in AI, with businesses already incredibly keen to invest in the technology and harness it to develop their digital strategies.

Founded in 2022 by Brett Adcock, the start-up company’s team consists of people from leading technology companies like Boston Dynamics, Tesla, Google DeepMind and Apple - all with the view that humanoid robots will seek to mitigate global labour shortages.

Adcock, says that the company will use the newly acquired funding to develop LLMs for robotics, according to Reuters. Furthermore, the company is seeking to increase manufacturing efforts and undergo mass hiring.

The start-up business will also be utilising Microsoft Azure for its AI infrastructure and training strategies.

AI models developed with the new funding will be based on OpenAI’s latest GPT models and will be trained on robotics actions data that Figure has collected. The end goal of this is for its humanoid robots to talk with people, see its surroundings and perform tasks.

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‘AI as copilot’ as robotics companies seek to aid workforces

Figure seeks to be the first of its kind, aiming to bring a general purpose humanoid robot to life with the power of AI.

In the global robotics landscape, large technology companies have demonstrated that they are keen to invest in robots powering the future of work. In fact, OpenAI has already backed fellow robotics start-up 1X, whose robots are aiming to combat the ever-increasing demand for labour.

Likewise, Amazon deployed more than 750,000 robots in 2023 to capitalise further on AI opportunities, as part of a partnership with Agility Robotics.

Within key industries, like technology, healthcare and manufacturing, humanoid robots hold great potential for businesses. They can offer capabilities such as completing tasks that would be dangerous or inefficient for human employees to complete, such as handling heavy loads or toxic substances.

Whilst anxieties over AI replacing human workforces remain, it is clear that robots and humans could coexist in the workplace quite successfully together. 

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