Human-shaped robots with dexterous hands will be staffing warehouses and retail stores, tending to the elderly and performing household chores within a decade or so, according to a Silicon Valley startup working toward that vision.
Why it matters: Demographic trends — such as a persistent labor shortage and the growing elder care crisis — make fully-functioning, AI-driven humanoid robots look tantalizingly appealing.
- Companies such as Amazon are reportedly worried about running out of warehouse workers, whose jobs are physically and mentally demanding with high attrition.
Driving the news: A heavy-hitting startup called Figure, which just emerged from stealth mode, is building a prototype of a humanoid robot that the company says will eventually be able to walk, climb stairs, open doors, use tools and lift boxes — perhaps even make dinner.
- The company is the brainchild of Brett Adcock, a tech entrepreneur who previously founded Archer Aviation (a “flying taxi” maker that went public) and Vettery (an online hiring marketplace that he and a partner sold for $100 million).
- He's assembled an all-star team of 40, including leading roboticists from Boston Dynamics and Tesla.
- They've moved into a 30,000-square-foot facility in Sunnyvale, California, where they plan to set up a mock warehouse to test their prototype.
- “We just got done in December with our full-scale humanoid,” Adcock tells Axios. “We'll be walking that in the next 30 days.”