The race to build AI-powered humanoids is heating up

Robotics startup Figure, which launched in 2022, has spent the last half year quietly developing a bipedal humanoid robot. That robot, named Figure 01, has just been unveiled publicly.

Modeled after the human form, Figure 01 walks on two legs and is intended to do manual labor that currently relies on actual living humans. With a labor shortage in the U.S. that numbers in the millions, Figure’s humanoid is designed to do the jobs people don’t want (or don’t have the skills for), and to eventually tackle more advanced tasks like caring for the elderly or even cooking meals.

Key to Figure’s robotics approach is its reliance on artificial intelligence to enable its robots to learn and improve their abilities. As movements and performance evolves, the robots can progress from basic lifting and carrying tasks to more advanced functions. That work will start out in the warehouse setting, doing the kind of heavy lifting that people don’t particularly enjoy.

“Our business plan is to get to revenue as fast as we can. And honestly that means doing things that are technically easier,” says Figure founder Brett Adcock.