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Meet the Humanoid Robots That Had Everyone Talking This Year

From Tesla’s yoga-practicing robot to the robot CEO, here are some of the top humanoid robot innovations from 2023

Scarlett Evans

December 22, 2023

4 Min Read
The top humanoid robot innovations from 2023
The top humanoid robot innovations from 2023Getty

Humanoid robots got a lot of attention in 2023. Here’s a look at the ones everyone was talking about this year. 

Apptronik’s Humanoid Robot for Space Exploration

Apptronik is working with NASA to adapt its general-purpose humanoid robot, Apollo, to assist with space missions.

Under the partnership, Apollo is set to become an assistant to astronauts living either on space stations in orbit or even those located on Mars or the moon. 

One day, these humanoid robots may even be used as remote avatars for human operators on Earth.

Apollo was initially designed for industrial applications, helping ease ongoing labor shortages and pressures in sectors such as logistics, manufacturing, hospitality and even health care.

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Tesla Humanoid Robot Does Yoga

Tesla released several updates to its Optimus robot this year, including new vision, dexterity and neural network capabilities to improve its motion and allow it to move autonomously through its environment and even perform yoga poses.

Initially designed as a worker assistant to help combat ongoing labor shortages, Optimus is now said to have potential applications beyond the industrial sector to help with domestic tasks. 

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Humanoid Robot CEO Takes the Lead at Rum Company

While initially launched in 2021, Polish rum company Dictador’s appointment of a humanoid robot as its CEO made headlines this year.

Related:Humanoid Robot Gets Upgrade With Latest Generation

In what’s being called a “world’s first,” the humanoid, AI-powered robot was appointed for its lack of bias and ability to make data-led decisions.

The robot, Mika, was created by Hanson Robotics, the company behind the humanoid robot Sophia. Mika, however, is said to be a “more advanced” version of the design.

Mika’s tasks include identifying potential clients and selecting artists to design labels for Dictador’s bottled rum. 

In a video interview, the robot said it made a good boss for the company given its lack of bias in the decision-making process and the ability to work long hours. 

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IHMC, Broadwalk Robotics’ Boxing Robot

A humanoid robot capable of boxing with a human was demonstrated this year by creators IHMC Robotics and Broadwalk Robotics.

The robot, which has been described by its creators as the “next-generation humanoid for the next generation of robotics,” was shown throwing punches with a human in a video release.

According to IHMC’s website, the robot was named after gymnast Nadia Comăneci, “as a nod to the ultimate design goal — achieving human-range-of-motion.” 

Ultimately, the companies want to make their robot capable of movements such as climbing stairs and ladders, and navigating through debris. Potential applications include firefighting, disaster response and “other scenarios that might be dangerous for humans.”

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Figure’s ‘World’s First Commercially Viable' Humanoid Robot

Figure officially introduced its Figure 01 robot this year, described by the company as the “world’s first commercially viable” humanoid robot. 

The robot is intended for manufacturing, logistics, warehousing and retail, and features dexterous hands for opening doors, with the robot using tools and legs for more efficient movement climbing stairs and lifting boxes. 

It also features an AI system that allows it to “think, learn and interact” with its environment and the people around it. 

“Figure 01 brings together the dexterity of the human form and cutting-edge AI to go beyond single-function robots,” the company said.

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Unitree’s High-Performance Humanoid

Unitree unveiled its H1 robot in August.

The Chinese company has heralded its design as the ‘highest performance’ humanoid offering, equipped with 3D lidar and a depth camera to enable its autonomous navigation. 

In a December update, Unitree showcased the robot’s stability and obstacle navigation, with the robot withstanding several kicks from a team member and carrying a 66-pound load.

Unitree has not specified a release date for H1, but the company said it would reach commercialization in the next three to 10 years.

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About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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