March 27, 2024
Figure AI Hits $2.6B Valuation with Backing from Bezos, OpenAI
AI

Figure AI Hits $2.6B Valuation with Backing from Bezos, OpenAI

In a significant boost for Figure AI, a startup focused on creating humanoid robots for hazardous and undesirable tasks, major players in artificial intelligence have invested $675 million at a valuation of $2.6 billion. Notable investors include Jeff Bezos, Nvidia, Microsoft, and Amazon’s $1 billion Industrial Innovation Fund.

Established in 2022, Figure AI has introduced Figure 01, a versatile humanoid robot designed for deployment in manufacturing, shipping, logistics, warehousing, and retail—particularly in areas facing severe labor shortages. The company emphasizes that its robots are not intended for military or defense applications.

Figure AI recently showcased Figure 01 in action through a video demonstration. The robot, connected to a tether, exhibits bipedal movement, utilizing its five-fingered hands to lift a plastic crate. It walks several steps before placing the box on a conveyor belt.

The ultimate goal for Figure AI is to enable Figure 01 to autonomously perform everyday tasks. Achieving this objective necessitates the development of more robust AI systems.

Figure AI operates in a competitive landscape, contending with various companies striving to make humanoid robots a reality. Agility Robotics, backed by Amazon, plans to establish a factory capable of producing up to 10,000 Digit robots annually. Tesla is also venturing into humanoid robots with its project Optimus, while Boston Dynamics has crafted several models. Additionally, Norwegian startup 1X Technologies secured $100 million in funding with support from OpenAI.

Although the humanoid robot market is in its early stages, Goldman Sachs analysts predict it could reach $38 billion by 2035, with an estimated shipment of over 250,000 units in 2030.

According to Tom Andersson, co-founder and principal analyst of STIQ Ltd., which focuses on robotics and retail technologies, the current interest in humanoids is at an early stage, and significant advancements are required before widespread deployment can occur.

As part of the investment deal, Figure AI announced a partnership with OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, to “develop next-generation AI models for humanoid robots.” Additionally, Figure AI will leverage Microsoft’s Azure cloud services for AI infrastructure, training, and storage.

Creating humanoid robots involves high costs for components like actuators, motors, and sensors. However, researchers at Goldman Sachs anticipate a decline in these costs in the coming years. Already, costs have dropped to a range of $30,000 to $150,000 per unit from $50,000 to $250,000 per unit last year.

Intel’s venture fund participated in Figure’s investment round, along with Ark Invest led by Cathie Wood, Align Ventures, and existing investor Parkway Venture Capital. This substantial investment reflects growing confidence in Figure AI’s vision for humanoid robots and their potential applications.

Image by vecstock on Freepik

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