OpenAI partners with startup to create advanced AI models for humanoid robots

Move over, Google. OpenAI is in the process of becoming Skynet. Figure, a robotics startup, already has its first commercial agreement with BMW manufacturing.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
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Hiroshi Watanabe/Getty Images

OpenAI is partnering with AI robotics startup Figure to develop humanoid robots. The plan is to use Microsoft Azure for AI infrastructure and OpenAI's investment and guidance to deploy autonomous humanoid robots for commercial purposes.

In partnering with Figure to create a humanoid robot, OpenAI plans to use its research chops and its extensive experience developing AI models to continually improve models for robots, hoping to accelerate Figure's commercial timeline. 

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"We've always planned to come back to robotics and we see a path with Figure to explore what humanoid robots can achieve when powered by highly capable multimodal model," Peter Welinder, VP of product and partnerships at OpenAI, said. "We're blown away by Figure's progress to date and we look forward to working together to open up new possibilities for how robots can help in everyday life."

Figure announced a commercial agreement with BMW Manufacturing in January 2024. The deal is meant to introduce the startup's humanoid robots into the automotive manufacturing process, specifically for tasks that may be difficult, unsafe, or monotonous for humans. 

"Our vision at Figure is to bring humanoid robots into commercial operations as soon as possible. This investment, combined with our partnership with OpenAI and Microsoft, ensures that we are well-prepared to bring embodied AI into the world to make a transformative impact on humanity," Figure founder and CEO Brett Adcock said. "AI and robotics are the future, and I am grateful to have the support of investors and partners who believe in being at the forefront."

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Figure last week announced the startup had raised $675 million in Series B funding, which includes investments from OpenAI, Startup Fund, Nvidia, Jeff Bezos, Parkway Venture Capital, Align Ventures, and ARK Invest. The round valued the startup at $2.6 billion, after being founded less than two years ago. 

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