Tech

Archer co-founder bootstraps multi-purpose humanoid robot


The quest to build the perfect humanoid robot is heating up. numbers — A start-up currently operating in stealth — is developing a multi-purpose bipedal robot that it plans to pilot in 2024. And part of that overall roadmap.

TechCrunch also saw a pitch deck detailing Figure’s plans, including a glimpse of renderings of the robot in development.Now the Bay Area startup effort is Elon Musk’s Tesla Upcoming Optimus bot. It is virtually the holy grail of sorts among roboticists, a humanoid robot that performs many everyday tasks, from manual labor to elderly care. It’s also an almost impossible target.

As a species, we tend to gravitate toward those who are similar to us. A bipedal robot is much easier to project itself. This is a big part of why bipedal robots dominate so much science fiction. But historically, most robotics has determined that dedicated robots are the path of least resistance. The best form factor for a given job is a rule of thumb, and in many cases it’s not necessary to reproduce the full human form. That, among other factors ($$$), hockey puck vacuum The most popular consumer robot ever.

So why are so many people trying to build the perfect humanoid robot in 2022? Boston Dynamics on display Atlas parkour moves The past few years. Xiaomi At a recent event, following in the footsteps of companies like Toyota, they paraded a bipedal robot called CyberOne on stage. Perhaps the most notable of recent vintages is Tesla’s Optimus. This is slated for release later this month, after a spandex-appropriate faux pas.

After talking to the team behind NASA humanoid robot A few years ago they proposed a simple premise. We built buildings and cities for humans, so anything that looks and moves like us tracks it as the best equipment to navigate it.

That’s the philosophy that drives Figure, the brainchild of job market founder Brett Adcock. Fatty and more recently, Archer. The former was acquired by Swiss staffing firm Adecco Group for $100 million in 2018. The latter is building eVTOL.united airlines I recently dropped a $10 million deposit Purchase 100 flying taxis.

But Figure hopes to succeed where countless very well-funded and smart people have failed. In addition to taking on the CEO role, Adcock is trying to get things back on track by bootstrapping the Bay Area-based company with his $100 million funding.

Some of that money was used to hire research scientist Jerry Pratt as CTO, former Boston Dynamics/Apple/Arrival engineer Michael Rose, and Google/Boston Dynamics roboticist Gabe Nelson as chief scientist. was broken. Additional hires from Apple, Tesla, Google X, and the Toyota Research Institute will add about 30 staff (with more planned).

TechCrunch has seen renderings of an early version of the robot. The system looks more in line with the robot Terrsa is developing than a giant atlas of his Boston dynamics. Smaller, smarter frames (human-sized, but shorter) will be electric rather than hydraulic, which powers other robotic systems. It’s an ambitious project that will likely take years to get off the ground from a company that was only founded earlier this year. One and have the funds to get things started.

However, given the product range, the company has raised additional seed funding. Figure strives to take a full-stack approach to in-house hardware and software development wherever possible. This is work that will likely arrive with a flurry of patent applications over the next few years.

Certain aspects of the work, such as batteries and SLAM navigation, are taken from the non-robotic divisions of Lucid and Tesla as they can be transferred from the self-driving car category. The company is also expected to significantly expand its AI team.

Figure is aiming to show a prototype in 2023 (which I expect will mean coming out of stealth late this year or early next year), and pilots will be available in limited quantities the following year. Launched. These applications revolve around warehousing, retail, and more. Early iterations of the product seem likely to be over $100,000, but scaling the product can bring it down to about a third of that. That’s still a steep number (especially for non-industrial applications) — so the company is adopting a robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) leasing model to make the system more accessible over his decade of robot potential. It seems that. long life.

Company recently registered figure.ai, currently features a disembodied cat head wearing glasses floating in space while lasers shoot out from its eyes. I don’t go there often.

Figures do not comment on robots or cats. We will continue to update the story as we learn more.



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