BMW and Figure Team Up: Humanoid Robots to Revolutionize Manufacturing at US Facility

BMW and Figure Team Up: Humanoid Robots to Revolutionize Manufacturing at US Facility

BMW has partnered with robotics startup Figure to deploy humanoid robots at its largest US manufacturing facility in South Carolina. This marks Figure’s first commercial deal since being founded in 2022. The partnership will start small, with plans to scale up if the robots meet BMW’s performance expectations.

Figure’s humanoid robots are designed to be adaptable and safe. At BMW, they will be trained to handle tasks like working in the body shop, handling sheet metal, and managing the warehouse. The robots will be integrated into BMW’s operations over the next 12-24 months.

BMW is not alone in exploring humanoid robots for automotive manufacturing. Honda, Hyundai, and Tesla have also been developing human-like robots to automate repetitive and hazardous factory work. Tesla recently unveiled Optimus Gen 2, its latest humanoid robot, with CEO Elon Musk predicting there could be a billion such bots by the 2040s.

Humanoid robots are attracting more interest because they can be more versatile and flexible than task-specific robots, with the ability to move in a wide range of motions and learn new skills. However, it remains to be seen if they can be reliable and safe alongside human workers. Figure’s deal with BMW will be an important test.

Figure’s CEO called the BMW deal a huge validator for his company’s vision. But challenges likely lie ahead. It is still unclear if humanoid robots can thrive in real manufacturing environments long-term. BMW’s pilot project will provide valuable insight into the opportunities and limitations of this emerging technology.

For now, BMW and Figure are starting small. But their partnership represents a step toward futuristic factories where humanoid robots work alongside people to drive new levels of productivity and automation.