BMW wants humanoid robots to build its cars, evidenced by a partnership with a robotics startup that it signed today.
BMW has partnered with Figure in its first partnership since the company was founded two years ago. The German automaker plans to launch a small, controlled launch of humanoid robots in its production facilities, potentially expanding to more units if performance targets are met.
The humanoid robots will initially be launched out of the BMW facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which employs 11,000 people.
“We have designed the robot to be safe next to humans. Working with BMW on automation in a manufacturing facility is a huge validator for us in the space,” Founder and CEO of Figure, Brett Adcock, said, according to Reuters.
Similarly, Tesla launched its Optimus bot several years ago, and with its latest iteration being unveiled in December, the automaker will also eventually look for its in-house humanoid robot to assist in EV production.
Honda and Hyundai have also experimented with robots in their factories, tasking them with dangerous work on assembly lines.
Figure has a mentality that robots can help with workforce shortages. On its website, it says:
“With the first humanoid by our side in the workforce, we’ll have the ability to create and produce so much more, address drastic labor shortages, and reduce the number of workers in unsafe jobs.”
It also has a “Master Plan,” similar to that of Tesla, where it outlines its three major business opportunities in the long-term for humanoid robotics: Physical labor, Consumer Household, and Off-World, where it would use robots for space exploration.
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